Top 10 Main Causes of Project Failure

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There are a lot of tips, resources, and guidelines on project management. However, one of the least discussed topics involves project failure. Very few project managers or companies want to admit their failure. Yet, it is very rampant especially in ill-defined projects. That’s the reason why it is important to evaluate all the possible challenges even at the very start. It lets the project manager, the team members, and the client mitigate risks associated with the work.

In this article, we’ll identify the 10 main causes of project failure. Knowing about these helps you become more prepared for the tasks ahead:

  1. Poor planning and/or inadequate process – planning is central to the success of a project. It is important to define what constitutes project success or failure at the earliest stage of the process. It is also essential to drill down the big picture to smaller tasks.
  2. Inefficient way to document and track progress – this is an oversight on the part of the project manager. Tracking milestones is a crucial way to see if expectations are being met. Documentation and tracking also lets the manager identify which areas require more resources to be completed on time.
  3. Poor leadership at any level – the “leader” is usually identified as the project manager. However, the management-level executive also has a responsibility of ensuring the project’s success. He/she should work together with the manager to ensure that the company’s exact requirements are understood.
  4. Failure to set expectations and manage them – in working in a team setting, it is critical that you’re able to manage people. If and when expectations are not met, there should be clearly-defined consequences. The task should then be prioritized and possibly reassigned to a more competent individual.
  5. Inadequately-trained project managers – the project manager is taking on a heavy responsibility. It is important to assign management roles only to individuals who have the capabilities to meet requirements. In some cases, poorly-trained managers are assigned to complex projects; this is a recipe for failure.
  6. Inaccurate cost estimation – there are instances when the cost of an undertaking is grossly underestimated. When it runs out of resources, the project cannot be completed. This can be mitigated when the lack of resources is identified early by the project manager.
  7. Lack of communication at any level – communication between the management executive and the project manager, and between the latter and the team members are always important. Everyone should feel free to come forward to state their concern or give suggestions.
  8. Culture or ethical misalignment – the culture of the company must prize competence, pro-activeness, and professionalism. If it doesn’t, the team members may not have the motivation to do their best. In essence, everyone involved must be concerned about the success of their undertaking.
  9. Competing priorities – when a company’s resources are stretched, there will be competing priorities in terms of manpower and financing. Having good cost estimation at the start will eliminate this problem.
  10. Disregard of project warning signs – when a project is on the verge of failing, there will always be warning signs. Taking action immediately can save the project. Otherwise, the whole endeavor can just go down the drain.

How about looking for a tool to eliminate project failure?

The points made above all demonstrate different aspects to how project failure can occur, including lack of communication and poor tracking.  There exist many tools/apps that can help in many of these and should be considered.  Here are a few below that might set your projects on a successful path.

Rosanne Lim

Rosanne Lim

I'm a business graduate with 5 years experience as a web writer. I've written everything from in-depth business reports and magazine articles to product descriptions for ecommerce websites.

8 Responses

  1. cephas lokipi says:

    nice work I have learnt a lot thanks .

  2. irene says:

    best explanation

  3. haris saleem says:

    Can you tell me what are the conditions leading to conflicts, confusion and unsatisfied customers, with respect to project management?

  4. Simon Hogan says:

    You forgot about not defining requirements correctly. Probably should be number one on the list

  5. jameson says:

    even when the wrong market was targeted

  6. IVO CESAR says:

    The main reason for project fail is poor risk wide risk management in all project step.

  7. Mohamed Numu Jabbie says:

    Lack of evaluation to identify unintended consequences can lead to protect failure.

  8. Lobsang Tsering says:

    i think that Main failure of project failure are
    1) lack of user interaction with the system
    2) Improper requirement documentation and its volatility nature of customer on requirement.
    3) Inadequate in both human and technology resource.

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