5 reasons why your project is failing and how to succeed

What are the most common reasons your project is failing? Project failures happen in any organization. Each year, companies around the world face astronomical project failure rates, often wasting a tremendous amount of money. Sometimes, mistakes are out of control of its team, sometimes they could have been avoided. The following article describes 5 common reasons why your project is failing & how to succeed.

1. Lack of governance & objectives

How it impacts your project: To successfully complete a project, you must have a clear vision of what you are going to do. Therefore, governance & objectives should be part of your project planning. They should be completed prior to project start. Under the assumption of having sufficient technical skills and experience, teams often skip this step and jump too quickly to the execution phase. This frequently leads to not meeting expectations of stakeholders.

What to do: Before execution, put a written planning in place. This should clearly outline requirements, responsibilities & deadlines. Make sure your document is reviewed and signed off by all project stakeholders. This will not only cover your team’s back, but also avoid frustration and additional delays.

2. Poor monitoring & transparency

How it impacts your project: Monitoring & transparency are an essential part of project management and often undervalued. To succeed, frequent progress updates in form of visualized dashboards etc. should be put in place. Failure to do so can negatively impact your project and discourage your team.

What to do: Should you be part of a project that lacks visibility, pull your team together. Make sure deadlines are outlined and communicated to the whole project team including its sponsors.

3. Scope Creep

How it impacts your project: Scope creep refers to change in scope of the project in the middle of a project lifecycle. This can be caused by various reasons: Miscommunication during project kick-off, changing requirements of involved stakeholders – you name it. Scope creep frequently results in project delays, over budget etc.

What to do: Scope creep may occasionally occur and is not necessarily a bad thing (if dealt with the right way). In case of project scope changes, make sure to revise governance & objectives if necessary. Share timing & budget changes with all stakeholders. In case the project is likely to fail, openly address your concerns with the project sponsors.

4. Use of unpractised tools & techniques

How it impacts your project: To drive a project successfully, suitable tools & techniques are required. Bombarding your team with data loaded excel files or complex technology that requires extensive training can lead to frustration and a loss of traction.

What to do: Find a middle way between traditional and innovative software as long as it is easy to use. Don’t be afraid to look into new tools and technology to enhance your project’s transparency & communication.

5. Poor people management skills

How it impacts your project: Being in charge of a project can be challenging, especially when dealing with different personalities. Failing to get along with your team members can backfire quickly and affect a project’s success. 

What to do: Make sure to assign measurable tasks and responsibility to each team member to make them feel valued and wanted. Be open and let your team know you are there to support in case of bottlenecks. Make sure to understand each team member’s personality and how to respond to them the right way.

Final Words

Each project will face some obstacles and has potential risks of failure. Therefore, it is important for a project team to assess the factors which might lead to failure and remediate them before project kick-off. This will help to avoid bad surprises and stay on top of your project. In case an unforeseen obstacle arises during a project, it is recommended to inform all team members. Additionally, try to seek for solutions and define relevant countermeasures.

Have you ever faced any of above mentioned obstacles during a project and how did you solve them? What are in your point of view the most common reasons why a project is failing?

I help individuals, start-ups & corporates develop digital transformation, branding and social media strategies. If you’d like support to solve challenges inside your organization or need help with business creation, please feel free to contact me or follow me on LinkedIn.


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