What can make your software project fail?

Now I’d like to share with you some of my observations concerning reasons of software project failures and things that can kill projects.

Failure to say ‚Äòno’ and the desire to ‚Äòembrace the boundless’

A project manager has to know where to say ‚Äòyes’ and when ‚ÄòNo, it will be realized in the next version’. Ill-defined project boarders can kill a project much more easily than it may seem. And the problem is not in the scope of the additional work. The project plan shouldn’t presuppose the introduction of new functions and changes in the requirements. Of course, requirements can change but in order to introduce changes it is needed more time than has been agreed. Big projects cover too many spheres. It’s better to move further step-by-step ‚Äì even in the framework of a big project. For that reason, it’s necessary to make a clear list of tasks which can be easily managed. Very often mass and hasty transition to new information systems ends in failure because of the difficulty of the project, or end users can’t adapt to significant changes in the product.

Lack of collaboration

Not all participants of the project take part in meetings because either the discussed questions aren’t related to them or the decisions are taken by the project manager solely. But in any case the whole project team should be aware of the taken decisions. Otherwise, in the end the final product will not meet the new requirements and it will have to be redeveloped. There’s another example, when the project manager agrees with the client about the deadline without considering the developers’ opinion. It can lead to the project failure and client’s dissatisfaction. The project is unlikely to be successful if the developers have to complete it in an incredibly short time. Sometimes the project manager just doesn’t listen to the developers when they speak about existing problems.

Irrational allocation of duties

Very often the company hires a new employee for solving some certain task, but then – somehow ‚Äì this employee is delegated a task which isn’t connected at all to the given project. Of course, it affects the project development period. Moreover, projects can be slowed down because of non-essential things. For example, if one need to write a task panel, it’s inappropriate to start work until the question on the application functionality is solved. Otherwise, the project can be easily got bogged down in trivia.

New software development technologies and own libraries

Some developers tend to use new unverified technologies. The balance of new and old is very important in programming. But are new technologies really better? Will they become popular or disappear in the nearest future? The choice of the right technology is real art but you’d better not use beta versions of libraries that appeared only yesterday. Many developers don’t buy ready-made libraries and write their own ones. Of course, such libraries have their benefits but they also have drawbacks. Before designing, developing and testing your own libraries, you have to evaluate a possibility of using the existing libraries.

Useless prototypes

There’s nothing bad in prototypes. One can write a prototype on another language or for another system, learn something and proceed to software development. But there’s a danger of wasting too much time on developing a prototype which won’t be used during the development of a real product. For example, if you develop a product on ASP.NET, you will waste time on developing a prototype on Ruby on Rails and learning the access to the Rails database.

Failure to use the right project management and collaboration tools

Very often project managers don’t want to implement the innovative project management tools, such as Basecamp , JIRA, Redmine, Easy Projects .NET, Comindware Tracker, etc., which can significantly improve their performance just because it means the necessity to train and learn something new.

Recommended Project Management Software

If you’re interested in learning more about top rated project management software, the editors at Project-Management.com actively recommend the following:


Steward Copper

Hi, my name’s Steward Copper and I am the owner of Project Management Insights. While working as a project coordinator and BA, I have tried almost all possible PM tools, BA instruments, collaboration programs, including tracker and task management software solutions.