Why Do Projects Fail?

PMI Chicagoland Chapter

Arvind has more than 13 years of progressive experience in software development, which includes project management, business analysis and planning, development, implementation and quality orientation.

In a perfect world, every project would be on time and within budget. But reality—especially when viewed through statistics—tells a very different story. It's not uncommon for projects to fail. Even if the budget and schedule are met, one must ask, "Did the project deliver the results and quality we expected?"

True project success must be evaluated on all three components. Otherwise, a project could be considered a failure. There are many reasons why projects (both simple and complex) fail; they can also fit into different phase of the software development life cycle, from initiation through go live.

Here are some of the common reasons why projects fail, based on my experience…

1. Incompetent project managers. A project manager who helps steer the project in a timely fashion and provides sound, inspiring leadership can go a long way toward bringing about success. But a PM can derail a project if they are unwilling to make decisions, ignore project problems, exhibit poor leadership and management, lose control, don’t delegate and work only as a coordinator.

2. Improper involvement level of PMs. This is always a topic of debate for project managers: Should they just focus on pure project management activities such as reporting, cost and issue tracking, or should they also dive into ground-level review and design? There is no …

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