Why Projects Fail: A Study Around How to Create a Successful Plan and the Right Team for the Project

Why Projects Fail

There are so many key areas of a project that many project managers fail to recognise.

When deadlines are missed, tasks are not completed and delays in larger parts of the entire project are costly to the company.  In this article, we will discuss the top 5 reasons projects fail and how to prevent or repair projects should the timeline be in jeopardy.

1. Scope Creep

Defining the scope of a project is one of the key stages of project planning, yet scope creep continues to be a major threat to the success of projects across all industries. Scope creep occurs when the scope of a project is consistently or continually expanded. Generally, the project scope is modified due to a high volume of relatively small changes, which don’t trigger a change management response. Instead, these relatively small modifications in the scope of the project quickly add up and have a disruptive impact on the project, its infrastructure, and the project team. 

Preventing scope creep should be a top priority for project managers. Fortunately, an iterative project life cycle is effective at helping to manage scope creep, as it’s designed to accommodate changing dependencies, and evolve as the project is undertaken. 

When preparing a consolidated project plan, be sure to consider the impact of scope creep and be proactive about preventing it. For example, a benefits management system can help to keep the focus on the project’s positive deliverables and allow emerging ideas to be assessed against the project’s goals, while effective scope management and change management will enable you to prevent excessive scope creep. 

2. Incomplete Team

Whatever your project’s objectives, it’s essential to know how to set up a project team if you want to realise your goals. Robust training in project team management and leadership enables project leaders to build and nurture successful teams, yet this is often overlooked as leaders tend to focus on the project itself, rather than the team delivering it. Your team’s mental health should also be a consideration, read this article about mental wellbeing and project management.

SWOT analysis in team working is a helpful tool to assess whether an established or potential team can deliver the project and realise the project’s objectives. Crucially, using team analysis tools at an early stage of consolidation planning ensures that changes can be made to the team structure and that the necessary skills, talents, and expertise are brought on board. Additionally, effective project team management also gives project leaders an opportunity to contribute to the enhanced diversity and inclusion of a department or organisation.

3. Lack of Project Funding

If a project doesn’t have sufficient funding, it can be delayed, postponed, or abandoned. Due to this, it’s vital that adequate funding is obtained and made available at the outset so that the project can continue at pace. 

While project funding is a critical topic in its own right, it is closely linked to project cost planning and control. Successful cost planning ensures costs are estimated accurately, budgets are agreed and the costs incurred are commensurate with the budget and estimates. Failure in this area inevitably means that the budget exceeds its pre-agreed parameters, leading to a deficit in funding. 

Planned costs can be fixed or variable, so project managers will need to identify how costs may change depending on how the project evolves and factor this into their cost planning and control. Similarly, creating a costs schedule and identifying when costs will be incurred will help to ensure that funds are available when they are needed and prevent unnecessary project delays. 

4. Poor Communication

Whether you’re using a linear life cycle or an iterative project life cycle, communication is key to the successful completion of a project. No matter how large or small your project team is, it’s vital that communication is clear and consistent between leaders and team members, between individuals, and between project managers and stakeholders.

As teams become increasingly versatile and technology enables collaboration across continents, there is a rise in distributed workforces and disparate teams. While tools, such as video chat and live chat, enable real-time communication, it’s essential that effective messaging is delivered and received if you want your project to stay on track. 

To facilitate this, be sure to integrate a communications plan into your project plan so that communications are unambiguous and ensure that stakeholder engagement is used to nurture relationships and streamline communication with project stakeholders.

5. Ineffective Risk Management

Individual risks contribute to the overall project risk, which is why they should be identified as early as possible via a comprehensive risk analysis. This allows project team members to determine which factors may pose a threat to the success of the project and to take action accordingly. By doing so, threats can be reduced, and the level of risk mitigated to increase the likelihood of positive outcomes. 

Although risks are often viewed negatively, they can represent opportunities too, so project managers should incorporate the potential benefits associated with risk into their risk analysis and risk management strategy.

Accurately identifying risks is the first step to creating an effective risk management and control plan. After all, risks can only be analysed and mitigated once they are known. Following the identification of risks, the analysis will enable project professionals to determine the level of threat they pose and devise mitigation actions or contingency plans to reduce this threat.

With effective risk analysis, ongoing risk management, and a thorough risk register, the overall level of risk posed to a project can be reduced to a tolerable level and the likelihood of project success can be significantly increased. 

Managing Successful Projects

As project management involves applying a range of methodologies and processes to each project, it follows that successful project leaders will need to continually enhance their knowledge, gain additional experience, and develop their expertise in order to optimise their performance. 

With certified project management training, customised training programs, and accredited project management assessments, Provek helps project professionals realise their potential and develop industry-leading project management skills. To learn more, talk to our team today on 01635 524 610 or email us at enquiries@provek.co.uk

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