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7 Reasons Why Projects Fail

August 12, 2019 in Tips & Tools

As you may know first-hand, there are many reasons why a project can fail. According to Richard Discenza and James Forman, as published by The Project Management Institute, there are seven key causes that fall within three categories (people, process and communication).

We’ve summarized these reasons below, along with tips and recommendations.

1. Getting Caught in the Weeds (Communication)

Often times a project ends up focusing on the technical details of implementation. However, it is vital to step back and keep an eye on the business implications. How does the project relate to business value, and what needs to change on a business level to ensure the project’s success? Don’t lose sight of the big picture.

2. Blurred Accountability (Process)

It’s almost always impossible to know 100% of a project’s requirements before starting work. If you’ve ever been in a project before, you should know about scope creep! That’s why it is important to establish clear responsibilities, measure scope and results along the way, and have a plan for keeping requirements streamlined and within a reasonable scope.

3. Lack of Quality Measurement (Process)

It depends on the project, but your project probably isn’t the first of its kind. It might not even be the first of its kind in your company. By identifying a baseline and using mechanisms to measure and compare metrics throughout a project, you can monitor overall success. These checkpoints can help measure the validity of costs, schedules, and other factors.

4. No Plan or Methodology (Process)

Always have a plan. No clear schedule or implementation plan will almost definitely set a project up for failure and allow for scope creep, budget overruns, business complications and other consequences.

5. Not Including the Client (Communication)

When a project involves a client – which is always the case for agency projects – it is important to include them from start to finish. Be sure to engage the client throughout the process in order to solicit valuable input and work collaboratively as the project changes or evolves.

6. Ignoring the Right People (People)

Optimize the performance of a project by including people with the highest productivity and most relevant skills. A cheaper team of unskilled, inexperienced or non-motivated people can often cost more and last longer than an expensive team of skilled, experienced and motivated people.

7. The Wrong Tools & Techniques (People)

First, establish a strong foundation by ensuring that all team members have clear roles and responsibilities. Once this is done, it will be easier to know the right tools and techniques – be it software, schedules or strategies. When researching options, make sure to do your due diligence in choosing the right tools for your project’s structure and workflow.

* * *

There are a million scenarios of failed projects, but you will find that they almost always boil down to at least one of the reasons above. Deploying these guidelines and keeping regular check-ins will help keep any project on track and in a healthy state.


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TaskBranch is a cloud-based project management suite that makes it easy for digital teams to manage multi-phase projects in one place.