Why Projects Fail - 10 Major Pitfalls You Need To Avoid (Part II)

Why Projects Fail – 10 Major Project Management Pitfalls You Need To Avoid (Part II)

In the first part of three part series about top 10 project management pitfalls that can explain why projects fail, we looked at lack of processes, goals, changing project requirements, inexperienced or misfit project manager, work-overload, etc. Now we have to know how essential elements like provision of enough project budget, management support, project resource skill set and communication affect project success.

Inadequate budget, lack of buffer time to deliver project

Project Management - Project Budget

Most project managers struggle the most with these aspect of project management – budget and timeline. Going by experience and project management statistics reported in the past, as McKinsey found out, about 45% of large IT projects, on an average run over budget and 7% of such projects run over time; so much so that 17% of such large IT project go so badly, they make existence of the company questionable. Another study by United States Government Accountability Office found that nearly 50% of the federally funded IT projects are either poorly planned or poorly performing or both of these.

The question that keeps project managers on their toe - how much time and budget would I need for my projects? How much is enough and what is reasonable? Can I continue to rely on guesswork or there is any right way of doing it?

The right answer can be found as a result of right process followed for project planning.Inadequate budget, lack of buffer time and lack of project control mechanism is one of the major project management pitfalls one need to avoid.

Missing higher management support

Project Management PItfall - Lack of Management Support

Quite famous research report ‘Chaos Report’ by Standish Group has identified three major reasons for success of a project

  1. User involvement
  2. Executive management support
  3. Clearly identified and well documented requirements

There is another interesting research paper I came across which was about top management involvement in project management, a cross country study of software industry. This research paper has pointed out, and I am quoting its statement as it is “Critical top management support processes, which have higher impact on project success, often do not receive an appropriate level of attention from senior managers in the software industry.”

So much important is executive management attention and support. Clearly, top management is the group who is expected to provide right direction for company, for department, for projects. If a given project is important for an organization and if such project is struggling to meet stakeholder’s expectations, lack of top management attention and lack of their support will make the matter worse. That's a project management pitfalls one need keep in mind!

Lack of matching skills to deliver project

Project Management Pitfalls - Skillset Mismatch

Typically customer is acquired, project is planned and available resources are deployed to kick-off the project. By and large, selection of project team members/project resources is done based on availability and not specifically because of skills required for project. But this can potentially be a reason why projects fail if matching skills and experienced resources are not working on that project.

You may have enough or more than enough resources working on a project but unless project manager is able to pull right guys into key project, s/he would have a tough job at hand, quite likely s/he would struggle with everything else but project delivery.

It really starts with project manager. What if a project manager lacks the interpersonal and organizational skills to bring its team, stakeholder and customers together and make things happen? It's important to have the right project manager first, and build a right mix of skilled, experienced team members to deliver on the customer's requirements and expectations. May be it is a worth a trade-off to pay higher compensation for small team of highly adept and experienced than having moderately paid team with average skill, experience and in greater number.

Communication gap

A lot has been written and said about communication gap and its after-effects. Like this humorous chain of conversations that leads to complete distortion of message, project communication can lead to project failure if there exists an element of ambiguity. Project communication is integral and important part of sound project management process.

It all starts, right from acquiring project, understanding project requirements, project charter, project budget allocation, team formation, project planning, informing project plan, communication during the execution of project and also towards completion, closure of project. The important reason for project failure is attributed to lack of clear requirements (from both end, vendor as well as customer) and it is certainly one of the project management pitfalls professionals need to address.

Expectations that software will do the miracles

ZilicusPM Project DashboardRight project management software can help organizations to manage project lifecycle right from project planning, time tracking, cost management, team collaboration, reporting and so on. And today’s project management software especially cloud based project management software are cost effective, quite quick and easy to implement. They offer end-to-end functionality which otherwise had been exclusively used by big enterprises only.

That said, it is important to understand that, at the end of the day, project management software is just a tool. Software by itself will not address problems of your projects. Software can highlight the problem, software cannot solve it, people solve the problem. Project management software is an enabler, a platform to collaborate, to get notified to get things done, get notified of project progress, it exists to help project managers solve project problem, not to solve those problems by itself for project managers.

If you are reading this, it means that you know what could fail projects; in next part, concluding post, let's see what we can learn and stop project from failing.

Img Ref: [1]. omnipress.com [2]. workplacelearningsolutionsblog.com