An organization or a team will complete projects successfully if they follow through with a set of reliable principles and retrace their steps early enough when there is a misstep in the course of a project. Project managers are encouraged to take the steps needed to make them better with every project coming their way.
Completing a project in the set time frame, meeting up with the slated budget, and achieving the initiative defines the success of a project. If these items are not met, then the project is classified as a failure. Failed projects are one of project management’s toughest challenges. These pitfalls can, however, be avoided, and this article focuses on the reasons for project failures and what can be done to prevent it.
Here are several reasons why projects fail:
● Unrealistic goals and deadlines
● Lack of resources
● Scope creep
- COMMUNICATION: Communication seems to make a grand appearance in every project management topic gearing towards productivity. Although it may appear as though the issue of communication between teammates is over flogged or overemphasized, the importance of it in the successful completion of a project cannot be thrown out of the windows.
The lack of communication or miscommunication between project managers and team members accounts for the single most significant contributing factors to project failure. Project managers are burdened with the responsibility of relaying any information about the objectives and report them at each stage of the project. Team members, in turn, are to provide feedback to their team lead or project manager in the course of a project.
To avoid an unhealthy communication gap amongst teammates and managers, the team needs to be equipped with a practical and easy to use software that helps them communicate and, in turn, help the project succeed. There is no excuse for poor communication, not with the advent of so many communication portals readily available, from email, WhatsApp to Skype.
- UNREALISTIC GOALS AND DEADLINES: Time is an essential factor in managing projects and setting a deadline that limits you or puts you and the team in a tight schedule will mar the output of the project. The inability to meet deadlines is one of the biggest reasons why projects fail, following closely behind communication. Setting unrealistic deadlines is one of the common reasons for project failure.
A 2010 research carried out by KPMG on project failures revealed that 70% of companies experienced at least one project failure in a deadline of less than a year. This implies that with a deadline of less than a year tend to fail more often. Pegging deadlines for a short period is a perfect recipe for failure because it forces team members to rush through the stages of a project. The result of working on a tight schedule is an increase in the chances of error and inferior quality products; they fail to produce results that are associated with a successful project.
To avoid this pitfall, at the start of the project, when mapping out plans, consider all the factors or speed bumps that could play a significant role in delaying the project before setting a deadline. It is better to have excess time to complete projects expertly and to assess the time each activity will take before deciding on the final period of the project.
- LACK OF RESOURCES: Lack of resources, in this case, involves both budgetary allocations and human resources, which is the unavailability of capable hands. Lots of projects suffer from a lack of resources, whether it’s from budget cuts, changes in the organization, or availability of team members.
If a manager underestimates the resources needed for a project at the planning stage of the initiative, there will be a shortage of funds, which will result in hampering the success of the project. In some cases, the senior management in a bid to cut costs during the project leads to limited resources, thereby causing a ripple effect on the outcome of the initiative.
To avoid this pitfall, the project manager needs to table correct estimates of budget and human resources to the senior management. The top management is responsible for providing support for the project. Project managers should also set up meetings with the administration to brief them of the project on each stage of the project, to review it and decide if more will be needed along the line.
- SCOPE CREEP: Scope issues are another primary reason that projects fail. The scope is simply the project manager’s term for the sum of work to be done on a project. The range of a project involves what it entails, what it doesn’t, and what its end products are. Most project managers are not clear about the objectives of their projects.
For instance, your goal at the start of a project was to build a system that improves customer response time by 30 minutes, on the preview stage the users were impressed by your work and suggested additional features. This input from users bugs you down with details that were not a part of the original plan from the start, leaving you in a fix and setting up the project for potential failure. This is called the scope creep; it is the insidious way that a project’s end product gets larger by degrees.
It is crucial to pen down a scope document. A scope document helps to define the entire project, ensuring that frequent changes are not made to the original plan. The report will also include a list of what you will and won’t do by the end of the project.