10 Reasons why projects fail

Gagandeep Singhblogs, Job and Career, objectives, Project Management, self growth, TechnologyLeave a Comment

project failure

If you understand the reasons of failure, you have higher probability of success. First time success is a 'Lucky Phenomenon'. Failures make you stronger and enrich your experience. Let me share some observations and experiences to help my friends managing projects or programs.

1. Confused with Scope

Someone at the top has some vision but what is the scope of my project ? What do I need to deliver ? What I need to work on and who is doing the other dependent piece of it? If you are confused about the scope and have doubts about what is to be delivered, take my word - you are heading to failure.

If you are not clear about what you are doing, talk, discuss, argue but do not leave your mind with gaps
2. Missing 'Big picture'

Have you experienced this - team members are excellent in their area of expertise, every one knows that their tasks are but the project is still not on track. Having the best technicians, developers, designers, architects is great but do they all know what is the end product and goal? Do they know how the end product will make a difference in the business? Do they know how every brick they are placing or every line of code they are writing or testing will lead to benefiting business?

Big picture dreams broken down into smaller, more manageable parts unveil the steps that lead you to where you wan to go.
Richie Norton
3. Missing major milestones

Knowing Big picture and goals is the key. Without breaking them into objectives and major milestones you cannot plan and execute. Many Manager start blaming the stakeholder and business that they are not clear of requirements. Often, those who define the goals do not know how to achieve them and what is the route to succeed. Some are hands on and some have business acumen or are thinkers. Not everyone is Steve Jobs or Elon Musk or Bill Gates. Going to the drawing board and engaging right team members to break the goal to key objectives and milestones is the key.

4. Delegating and interfering

I have seen different personality of leaders. You need to understand the leaders you are working with. Knowing the personality of the people you work with will actually bring down a lot of your stress level. Once you know the leader then it is about figuring the way to work with her.

Type 1 - There are some who love to delegate and be the boss focusing on relaying message to the leaders. They want to give the best news to the top and will not get into the details. But if they see the news going up is not good they will bug you and start interfering .Without understanding details or knowing the risks, they will make you more anxious and tense.

Type 2 - They will go to every detail and provide their opinion and will rarely listen to you. Sometimes you will feel frustrated that you are not able to do it your way. It is all about how you handle such personalities and give an idea in such a way that they feel it aligns to their thought.

5. Split Communication

Goals, objectives, milestones, highly motivated teams all sounds good and are great recipe for success. However if they do not connect with each other or get 'split communication', you will be struggling to make everyone understand. They all will have great ideas but unless there is a common communication platform and they have opportunity to brainstorm, success will be very far. Communication is the key and here is where the managers need to be on top of it. Communication in isolated groups can only add to confusion.

6. Afraid to saying No to ideas from Seniors
We all are gifted with different skills and have ideas. If your boss is adamant to implement the solution in a way she wants and you have doubts in it, ask her. Appreciate her advise but open your cards as an option. Don't hurt her ego by saying it is a bad idea and that too in a team meeting. It is not politics  - it is art of convincing and negotiation. Have your proposal with pros and cons ready and have clear reason why you suggest it is better. If she is not approachable look for a person who is close to her and will listen to you and use that person as a medium. Just being quiet doesn't mean if it fails your boss will be blamed, you are part of it

Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.

Steve Jobs
7. Someone wants to delay it !
Corporations have different cost centers (departments) and they have their budgets to manage.  These departments want to ask for more money for next year and they want to show that they spent all or more that was allocated. This money goes to contractors, vendors and comes back into some of the big pockets(ignore if you did not understand). Long story short there may be someone up on your stakeholders who due to some reason want to delay the project and will pick up a scapegoat end of the year. Be aware ! Make your point clear, risks clear and document to the clearly highlight to bring to attention of those who have ears and integrity. Do not let yourself be the scapegoat, my friend.

Observe and understand the sensitivity and connect with right people to make your point clear. Document and communicate siting the risks and issues upfront.

8. One team and ownership
If different team members talk the language of "I have done my part, not sure about others" then there is missing team dynamics. Working together towards a common goal is the key. There needs to be a proper handshake and teams need to extend to help others beyond their responsibilities. This not only helps in the project success but also individual careers of the team members. If required spend some money in team activities or team building.

If you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem.

Eldridge Cleaver
9. Missing the key constraint

PMI or Prince 2 or Agile and various other methodologies will give you great concepts. What is important for you to understand is the "key constraint" of your project. If it is an idea crafted to improve a process and you are starting from scratch, use the best methodology suitable for it. But if it is has tight time constraints, you need to jump the wall. Lets say due to Covid, you have a project where employees need to work from home within 3 weeks. You cannot start by building everything from scratch with all the processes and procedures in PMP or Prince 2. You need to pick and choose. You have to find the fastest way to deliver to market. You cannot argue on preparing all documents in 3 weeks and then planning, testing and executing. Plan according to the constraints and goals. Keep the success factor of the project in mind. Various standards are "guidelines" to help us to achieve success. You need to be smart to understand and put use them for a successful project delivery.

10. Not using right tools
The world is changing at fast pace and there are zillion tools to use to make the work easier and faster from free to freemiums, suitable for individuals to small companies or large corporations. If you are still stuck in spreadsheets and macros or manual work you are adding lags to your work and heading for failure. Try tools, pilot them and check what is suitable for your needs. Spend some time in updating yourself with these tools or at least read and check the trial versions or demos. There are subscription based options these days where you are not tied to annual licenses.
If you have better ideas or any suggestions or tips, please feel free to share your experiences in the comments. Let me know if you have questions and I will be happy to answer.

Note: Please note that these are my own personal views and not necessarily reflect any comment on any of the companies I have worked for. Picture credits to Unsplash

This article is also published in Medium.com

This article is also published in Linledin.com

Tools to help managing projects 

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