Understanding the causes of project failure is the first step in fixing it. Let’s find out why businesses fail to learn from the past and what we can do to improve our chances of project success.
Every researcher, every management guru, and every project manager has their own perspective on why projects fail. Over the years, many academic studies, surveys, and books have been written about project failure and how to prevent it.
Hence, why aren’t we still talking about it.
Two reasons project failure is still so hot are:
First, many business leaders may be able to understand the causes of project loss on a theoretical level but they don’t really understand what it means for their business.
Second, as our economy and business environment evolves, so do the causes of project failure.
What does Project Failure mean?
There are many reasons why projects fail. While business leaders and project managers can recite the reasons in the box, they must also be able do something about them.
It is not enough to recognize that poor strategic alignment can cause project failure. You must redesign the project kickoff process to ensure a good strategic match from the beginning.
Businesses with poor project management skills might be a reason for low project management maturity. However, is it better to send team leaders on a PRINCE2 (r) course? A better approach would be to review your internal processes and get executive support for project management-y ways of doing things. Then, you can build from there.
Businesses fail to operate in a way that will lead to success, and projects fail. This means that all the best practices we know for years aren’t used routinely because of other stuff.
PMOs are needed to be able to embed good practices, act on lessons learned (rather than just capturing them), and call out leaders who fail create an environment that allows projects to flourish.
The Evolving Concept Of Failure
Today’s businesses face new challenges: the gig economy and tech that changes faster than we can keep pace, how to interface with dozens of systems, innovation as a standard, Brexit, managing flat and virtual teams, and how to manage risk. As with the economic context, our understanding has advanced about the potential of projects.
The original CHAOS report by the Standish Group in 1994 defined a “challenged project” based on meeting time, cost, and specification targets.
These are not the only measures that are important today. You can meet all the quality and budget requirements and still deliver what nobody wants.
Project teams should be more concerned about the benefits, outcomes, and value than the constraints.
Every project is different, so success looks different for each one. Leaders who stop looking at failure as an academic concept and create an environment where each project is understood, will help their teams become more successful.
Common Causes of Project Failure
Executive support is lacking
Poor strategic alignment
Poor risk management
Poor project management practices
Delays to decision making
Hence, why do some projects succeed?
Success in a project is easy. Projects are successful because they are the right ones and because they are done right.
You can make a delivery successful if you can achieve these conditions.
If you want to be able to turn your project around successfully, however, there are some steps that must be taken first.
What is a successful project?
Project managers who have worked in the field for a while will be familiar with the expression “the iron triangle”, which refers to the fact that quality, time, and cost are the constraints that bind all projects. The old saying is that you must choose two if you want to achieve success.