reasons why projects fail

5 reasons why projects fail

There are a number of reasons why projects fail.  Here are five of them.

These reasons come from my experience with remediation activities.

1. No one understands the business processes

So many times in the past few months I have found that business area’s do not have process maps clearly showing their processes.  Why is this important to the projects they are undertaking?  In order to make any changes within the business you are highly likely to impact at least one, if not more, business processes. By not understanding the AS IS state, what the process currently looks like, you have no basis to start your project work.  This makes it harder to define your requirements for change. You have no way of understanding how much of an impact the future state is going to have on the business, therefore how can you possibly understand the benefits of what you are doing on your project?You will also find it hard to articulate exactly what is and isn’t in scope for your project.

2. There are problems with the project scope

The scope is not locked down. And, by really clearly locked down I mean documented in such a way that ALL people working on the project clearly understand what is and isn’t in scope.  For the project manager it makes it much easier to manage the project, on all fronts because you are able to see what it is that you do and don’t need to be achieving.

The benefits are:

  • Planning becomes easier;
  • Answering questions on issues that arise is easier;
  • Reporting on progress is cleaner;
  • Funding requests are easier to submit.

3.  Planning on the project is incomplete or dishonest

Delivering the project to a time frame is one of the fundamental reasons for having a project manager. Thorough resource planning in order to do that is key.

Fully understanding your resource constraints is imperative to project success.  You must plan, factoring in BAU activities for your resources, where the project resources are shared resources. Factored in down time for holidays and illness. These are things that happen in any business and it is silly NOT to factor time in for these.

You MUST create a project plan that is visible to the whole team and your PCB. Everyone on the project is then accountable for the work they need to do.  Without this, you are certainly not going to be able to track deliverables easily, nor report to your PCB on your progress – not in a way that is truthful and open.

4.  Information gathering is not complete prior to starting the project

What do I mean by this?  Process mapping, for example, my uncover additional information. This information will impact on the way you deliver your project. Or, at least what is required to deliver it. You may find that questions will be raised, which might not have been covered in your business requirements.  You will see that you need additional and specialist skills in order to make changes, or gather data, etc.

Further information requires the Business Requirements to be reworked. Or different solutions need to be revisited and reconsidered.  Going into a project with very basic information gathered creates a nightmare, that impacts everyone in and around the project.

5.  You don’t engage your stakeholders early enough

You must engage stakeholders, sometimes also called SME’s (Subject Matter Experts), or business groups impacted by the change early.

Not engaging these people early enough in your project causes you no end of trouble. Why? They hold a key piece of information that would completely change the requirements for your project. Or worse still, they own a system fully impacted by your project (and you don’t know it), and unless you have their support and buy-in what you are working towards delivering is useless. It won’t be able to be used.

Do your homework, ask the questions, ensure that you have connected with your stakeholders BEFORE you get too far into your project.

If you pay attention to these five reasons and rectify them, you will be well on the way to ensuring project success.

Each of these items is also key to successfully delivering a quality business case.