Causes of Project Failure

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A project is defined as a unique set of co-ordinated activities with a finite duration, defined cost and performance parameters and clear outputs to support specific business objectives.




An IT-enabled project is any business change activity, including programmes and projects, where the use of IT is critical to its success.


• Not meeting project goals, delivering requirements
• Not delivering value for money
• Not matching stakeholder requirements
• Poor implementation and management
• Not hitting quality standards
• A sense of failure within the project team

There's also a general perception that larger projects have a higher tendency to fail during a recession period.


• 31% of IT projects will be cancelled before completion • 52.7% of completed projects cost over their original estimates • 1 in 8, the number of projects that can be considered truly successful





1. Inadequately trained and / or inexperienced Project Managers

We can also term this as “Lack of a Clearly Designated Project Leader”. There are countless reasons. the project leader must clearly articulate the project’s goals  The project leader must facilitate the development of the project plan with clearly designated tasks, milestones and accountabilities. The project leader must proactively address roadblocks and ensure the team completes the tasks on time and within budget.

2. Lack of Clear Expectations and Goals

Following on the heels of no clearly designated project leader is no clear expectations and goals.  Even the best project leader cannot succeed without clear expectations and goals.  What is the objective of the project?  Why is the objective important to the organization?  How does each project team member add value to achieving the goal?  Is the goal clear?  Is the timing understood?

3. Poor Testing

The developers will do a great deal of testing during development, but eventually the users must run acceptance tests to see if the system meets the business requirements. However acceptance testing often fails to catch many faults before a system goes live because:

• Poor requirements which cannot be tested
• Poorly, or non planned tests meaning that the system is not methodically checked • Inadequately trained users who do not know what the purpose of testing is • Inadequate time to perform tests as the project is late

Users, in order to build their confidence with a system, and to utilise their experience of the business, should do the acceptance testing. To do so they need good testable requirements, well designed and planned tests, be adequately trained, and have sufficient time to achieve the testing objectives.

4. Lack of clear links / Communication Problem

Communication challenges are common yet can deter even the best projects.  Even in the best of circumstances, it is easy to suffer from miscommunication and confusion.  Even with an excellent project leader it can be complex to ensure that communication is clear and that everyone on the team is aligned with the path forward.  Otherwise, it can be easy to run around in circles – even well-intentioned ones.

Lisa Anderson, President of LMA Consulting Group, Inc., is a senior supply chain and operations executive and management consultant. In the lines of her,

“ It is vital to communicate, communicate, and communicate.  I’ve found that you have to repeat important project communications multiple times.  Try saying it in different ways.  Try different communication vehicles.  Ask team members for their understanding.  Send reminders.  Follow-up.  Never stop communicating. ”

5. No Change Control System...
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