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Why do projects fail?

In your experience, what are the primary causes of project failure? I have my personal top ten list, what's yours? In particular, what can be done to improve the abysmal success rate of IT projects? If we solve this conundrum, let's move on to world peace!
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There are variuor reason why a project fails,
1. If the requirement are getting correctly.
2. Do we have enough capalibility to do the project.
3. Have we did correct estimation ( Both Cost and delivery ).
4. Do we have a good Team leader / Project Manager who can drive the project in right direction ( Good Project Management Plan with on time delivery capability, Good Team management Etc.).
5. Are client / stakeholders really want this project, are they responding actively........

and the most important is Lack of Positive Attitude..........


projects fail when the team spirit is not solid

For me the main reason of praoject failure is becaues of the people, the project team members. Anything that is related to human behabiour - culture, communication, ethics could cause project failure. Good communication between, senior management, project manager, stakeholder, team members wtih good ethics could prevent project failure.

Could it be due to ethical issues arises in project management?

This is a very interesting and active post. Well done to Frank for starting it off.

An interesting complementary question might be “Why project succeed?” and quite a few do, Eden Project in Cornwall UK, Millennium eye in London, Dartford Second Crossing (M25) bridge and lots of other around the world. What do these projects have in common?

Someone should write up the conclusions from the thread. Good idea for a book?

I would suggest.
1) Outstanding vision and business case (it was a really good idea)
2) Fantastic leadership linked to the vision
3) Simple governance structure i.e. one person is the driving force..
4) Focus on quality (above time). Many of the projects finish late, but still make a huge return for the organisations investing in them.

Anyone else got other ideas.

APM training, distance learning, e-learning, pod-casts and workshops

A lot of good points raised so far and from real world experiences and lessons learned some "Route Causes" of failings I would agree with (e.g. raised by Jeff Patridge and Paul Naybour) are:-

1) People - Not doing the activites and the jobs they are responsible for
2) Workloads - Businesses are trying to squeeze every peny out of peoples time and overloading of work resulting in (1)
3) Communication - Agreed updates/meetings commms not undertaken due to (2) thus resulting in (1)
4) Senior management/directors not believing that additional resource will be required to deliver the bow wave of work being pushed through resulting in (3) etc etc.

There has also been a lot of phrases uses that internal business projects have failed as they did not meet the directors/stakeholders expectations at that moment in time as the project scope/charter etc has been filed for x months and never reviewed with them. Not due tothe PM's fault but down to their acceoptance that they shoudl allow this engangement and review with the PM to ensure they are not making assumptions on the scope.


The most often asked question but one that does not have a clear cut answer. I'll attempt though from my experience
1. Lack of setting the right expectations with all the project stakeholders at the commencement of the project
2. Lack of proper estimation and planning
3. Lack of proper documentation esp in case of projects run offshore as maintenance engagements. The offshore team often forced to assume a lot of requirements
4. Lack of adherance to a work/process flow
5. Inability to handle change
We would like to spend more time on world peace too and to do so are researching exactly this topic.

We want to hear real world stories of what goes wrong on projects and would love to hear from our fellow project managers.

Please visit to submit and share your stories.
1 Understanding the required outcome to me is first, everyone needs to know what is expected as a whole group and as individuals with time line.
2. follow up is the responsibility of the PM
3. The PM must keep everything moving forward and be able to adjust to any problem and stay on line with time line.
4. Failure occurs when there is no adjustment to issues occuring within the project, when the right hand do not know what the left hand is doing or where they are within their part of the project.

File attached.


Speaking from experience of having to turn around several projects that were failing under others, I would say the most important reason that projects fail is that most project managers are more worried about technology and tasks than people.

As I have discovered your project sponsors are people, your development team are people, your managment are people, and so are the users of the final products of your projects. If project managers fail to take into consider the concept of people, it doesn't matter how good they are are keeping schedules, maintaining budgets, or know the technology, their projects are doomed to turn out less than successful or even fail.
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