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Why do projects fail?

Depressing though it is, I think we can all say we have been involved in a project that has gone wrong in some shape or form. But do we know why they go wrong and – if we do – are there any common characteristics we could learn from?

We asked a group on our Project Management programme. Here’s what they came up with:

  1. Projects go wrong when there is a lack of communication between those working on the project. If there are lots of people involved, this can be challenging – and there is potential for conflict, especially if each member of the project team have different end goals in mind.
  2. Projects fail when there is a lack of follow up on projects tasks. People may not be doing what they need to be doing, so without follow up it means the task might not have happened. This can have a serious impact on the success of the project.
  3. It could be that funding is pulled or team members leave and aren’t replaced, making the team too small for the workload the project requires. Ultimately this means there is a lack of resources to make the project a success.
  4. They can fail when there is no support from the project sponsor, causing serious difficulties for the project team when trying to move things forward.
  5. If there is a lack of detailed planning – no risk identification or mitigation and no monitoring and adapting to changes –  then it is likely that the project could fail.
  6. The Project Manager themselves can cause their own projects to go wrong by not delegating project tasks, resulting in them being overloaded and missing their deadlines.
  7. So as you can see, there are lots of reasons why a project might go wrong. I am sure you have others to add!

Yet we can see overarching characteristics. All these reasons come down to one of two things: problems with the people or the planning.

The key therefore to making your projects a success? Gaining control of the people and the planning from the start.

What’s next?

If you are interested in learning more about how to be a more effective project manager, why not register your interest for our Project Management programme. Or call 0114 399 4895 and speak to one of our experienced learning and development consultants. We can help create a project management approach that works for your organisation.