Businesses around the world experience projects that are not successful and often question where things went wrong. When leadership asks why projects fail, most of the answers come down to three major errors in the management of a project. The most crucial factors to a project's success are also where they are most likely to fail. Unidentified or poorly identified objectives and goals, lack of management support, and poorly resourced projects are the answers to management’s question of “Why do projects fail?”
No Clear Goal
When companies begin their project work, there should be a goal or objective identified before work begins. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. If project goals are not clearly defined by management, the project team doesn’t have visibility of what management wants to accomplish. This is one of the most common reasons why projects fail. This disconnect on any project can create misdirection, rework, and wasted time among team members. During the early phases of a project, leadership and project managers must meet to clearly identify goals and objectives.
Lack of Management Involvement
Regardless of goals and objectives for projects, leadership should be involved throughout the entire project. The need for involvement from management is two-fold; leading the project directionally, and having responsibility and holding accountability within the organization. A common reason for why projects fail is heavy management involvement at the project's inception and engagement waned towards the end. Leadership involvement must be apparent and consistent throughout the entire project. Having leadership involved throughout the project removes barriers that many projects face, like changes in expectations and miscommunications.
When identifying why projects fail in organizations, the allocation and utilization of resources is often lower on the list but is still very important. Project resources are not limited to money and people; resources also include time and technology, among other things. Properly resourcing a project means that all “moving parts” are accounted for and the capacity of each (i.e. time working, maximum budget, software capability) is documented. Following the utilization of resources closely allows for the project manager to identify when one may be reaching its limit and step in to alleviate any problems.
It’s not hard to know when projects fail, but having a true understanding of why projects fail is critical to the growth of your business. Identifying if your next project passes these key fail points, goals, management, and resources, will help you ensure that the project, and those coming after it, will be successful.