Project Management

The Top 10 Reasons Projects Fail

Frank Winters has more than 30 years of consulting and Information Technology experience serving as a project/program manager, consultant and IT service industry executive.

Projects--especially IT projects--fail. Some statistics say they fail more often than they succeed. Studies by the Standish Group, Gartner, Carnegie Mellon University, PMI and others all point out the same reality: projects very often fail. They are late. They are over-budget. They fail to deliver the product they were designed to produce. Some projects don't produce any product at all.


The dime store mantra of fast, cheap, good--pick two is heard too often. I spoke to a senior IT executive recently who told me that he doesn't hold his people accountable for anything but customer/user department satisfaction. Not the schedule, not the budget or even quality, except as measured by customer satisfaction.


His rationale for this approach is that he has been party to far too many projects that don't produce anything of use to the customer funding the effort. He wants to avoid that at all costs. Failure in this context means not delivering the value for money expected by one or more of the stakeholder groups. This particular executive is willing to fail in almost any way--except by not producing the desired good. In this way he keeps his most important stakeholders happy. Methinks there can and should be a higher standard of success than that. (I wonder what you, the reader, thinks.)


Even more prevalent than project failure are opinions about why they fail. Everyone seems…

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"Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd."

- Voltaire