Why Projects Fail
One of the project manager’s responsibilities is project completion. However, poor project management practices often lead to project failure, and accountability lands squarely on the project manager’s shoulders. Every project is different, however, there are generalities that exist with every project that a good project manager should know and can use to assess the project’s success or failure.
- Planning. Starting a project without reaching an understanding and agreement with the client concerning the scope of work to be performed is a recipe for missed deliverable deadlines and going over the project’s budget.
- Lack of a Workplan. The project workplan is basically an outline of how each step of the project will be performed, and every project–no matter how big or small–runs more smoothly when a solid workplan is in place.
- Poor Project Management. Some managers focus so much on project administration (i.e., handling project assignments and making sure equipment needs are met) that they neglect project management altogether. Others make the mistake of micromanaging a project task to the point of where they are doing most of the work instead of delegating to their staff. In both cases the focus is not on the direction and objectives of the entire project scope.
- Lack of Resources. Failure to accurately estimate the appropriate level of resources as well as the right mix of staff needed for a project has led to many a project failure.
- Squabbling. Personality clashes tend come out as a project progresses and starts hitting some snags, working hours get longer and stress levels increase. Teamwork is vital to a project’s completion. If certain team members cannot get along, the project manager must find a way for them to put personal differences aside and work together or modify assignments so that the project progress won’t suffer.
- Sacrificing Quality to Reach Milestones. This is why proper planning is essential. Many project managers focus solely on reaching milestones to the detriment of project quality. Clients pay for quality as well as a timely deliverable, and it’s the quality of your work that keeps them coming back to you.
- Too Much Rescheduling. Changes in due dates, schedules and assignments are a given as a project progresses, but too many can lead to mistakes, confusion, missed deadlines and resentment among your staff who are scrambling to keep up with all the changes.
- Use of New or Unfamiliar Tools Too Readily. Managing a project for the first time and being a first-time user of new project tools you are not familiar with is asking for trouble. Use tools you are familiar with or wait until you’ve managed more than a few projects before trying out new tools.