Why Projects Fail and How to Avoid It

Learn how to make your projects succeed and avoid common reasons for project failure.

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If you’ve led or been involved in a project that failed, or ran into significant problems, you know first hand that it can be a real nightmare.  Even if it’s not a major project, the aggravation of unmet deliverables, missed deadlines, or cost overruns can be substantial, and have a real negative impact on your career.

So if your called upon to lead or participate in a  project in addition to your regular responsibilities, understanding some of the common reasons why projects fail and what to do about it is a must.

Common Reasons for Project Failure

Projects that fail, often fail for some common reasons.  Among these are:

  • Poorly Defined Project Requirements:

– Example: A new computer system implementation that left out a plan to adequately train new users.

  • Poor Task Analysis:

    – Example: An office move that left out important steps.

  • Overlooked reaction from people impacted by the project:

    – Example: A plan for a new road that didn’t plan sufficiently for negative community resistance and boycott.

  • Poor Scheduling:

    – Example: A project plan for implementing an initiative that called for heavy involvement from staff during peak normal workloads.

  • Lack of understanding or agreement by project team members of their responsibilities

    – Example: A critical task isn’t done because one of the project team members didn’t realize they were responsible for it.

  • Lack of Coordination with other Groups/Departments. 

    – Example:  The failure to include the impact of a new computer system on another system that uses the same data.

  • Missed Deadline

    – Example: The failure to hold timely project reviews to monitor the project’s status, and take corrective action when necessary.

Projects That Work

On the other hand, successful projects are usually completely the opposite of projects that fail.  They usually have the following traits:

  • A clearly defined purpose and scope.
  • Clearly defined objectives that can be measured to determine if the project is a success.
  • Deliverables that are clearly stated and agreed upon.
  • Buy-in by Key Stakeholders on the need for the project.
  • Identified Coordination requirements both within the project team and with other affected groups.
  • Clearly defined critical success factors.
  • A project plan and schedule that  includes all the needed work tasks and deadlines.
  • A budget that reflects all the needed costs to successfully complete the project.
  • Sufficient status monitoring that  measures progress against the schedule, and identifies any needed corrective actions.

Because being able to manage projects successfully is such an important skill, KAW Consulting developed “PROJECT MANAGEMENT FOR MANAGERS AND SUPERVISORS”, an electronic handbook that will help you learn these vital skills.  You’ll learn a 4 phase process to:

  • Define the project’s scope, objectives, deliverables, critical success factors, resource needs, and collaboration requirements.
  • Break the work down into its major work blocks and tasks.
  • Develop an easy to use project schedule.
  • Monitor the project’s status and what to do if you find you’re off course.

Unlike most books on project management that are complicated and hard to understand,  “PROJECT MANAGEMENT FOR MANAGERS AND SUPERVISORS ” is exactly the opposite. It’s written in easy to understand language that walks you through the process of managing a project step by step, helping you think of the key ingredients to make your project successful, and avoid the common problems that crop up in unsuccessful ones.  We’ve even included sample forms you can easily adapt to fit your own project when defining the project’s key ingredients and developing the schedule and budget.

Like any great handbook, “PROJECT MANAGEMENT FOR MANAGERS AND SUPERVISORS” is something you’ll want to use over and over again.  And unlike paper handbooks, that get lost easily, it’s an electronic book in PDF format, that you can store on your computer so you have it accessible each time you need to use it.  Just call it up and it’s ready to use. If you want hard copy, you can print what you need.  To save you time, we’ve even included hyperlinks in the Table of Contents so you can jump right to the page or section you need without having to spend time scrolling through unneeded pages.

 You can buy single copies for the low price of $21.95.

Sharing with additional users is also easy–just purchase additional licenses at $19.95 per user.

To view a sample and instructions on how to purchase online click here.

Author: KAW Consulting

KAW Consulting provides Training and Development, Organizational Development, Teambuilding, Strategic Planning and Human Resource Consulting. Since 1994, our Core Competence has been helping organizations meet their business and strategic goals by identifying and developing the needed human resource capability to achieve these goals. KAW also provides the Manager's Toolkit, a series of Team and Personal productivity tools aimed at helping Managers, Supervisors and Team Members succeed in some of their most challenging tasks such as: Designing and Running Better Meetings, Holding effective Team Discussions, Delegating Work Successfully, Managing Projects, Time Management, Coaching Employees, and Leading Effectively.