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The top reasons for project failure and how to avoid it

For a project manager, the pressure of ensuring that a project is completed on time has never been higher. With only 40% of projects meeting schedule, budget and quality goals this is also becoming much harder to achieve.

But what are the top reasons for project failure? We have picked out some of the more common challenges and have provided tips to help you overcome them when undertaking future projects.

Lack of support and understanding from senior management

BONUS CONTENT – Download our 5 point tip sheet on how to avoid project failure

The chairman of the Project Management Institute, Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez, recently wrote a blog post about why project management was being ignored by senior figures within certain organisations.

This isn’t that surprising when you consider that only just over half of businesses understand the importance of it.

The solution

Changing the mindset of individuals can be a daunting task, but there are certain things you can do in order to get the full support of senior figures.

Try explaining how your project fits with your organisation’s overall strategy and how crucial it is to its success. If they know what benefits and return they will get from their investment, they are more likely to be actively engaged with what you’re trying to achieve.

Insufficient stakeholder management

It is easy to start a project and focus entirely on the goals of higher management. However, with 50% of the variance in project success rate attributable to people related factors it is crucial that you engage, inform and consult with all stakeholders effectively in order to successfully complete your project to everyone’s satisfaction.

The solution

Like most elements of a project, planning is key. To start with, you should create a digital stakeholder engagement strategy to help you make a plan of which of your stakeholders need to be informed, engaged and consulted about certain parts of your project.

Your completed strategy should:

  1. Identify your stakeholders – You should never assume that you know who all of your stakeholders are. Identify both external and internal groups that have an interest in the success of your project.
  2. Define your purpose – Decide what you want to achieve from engaging with your stakeholders, so you can manage their involvement in the most appropriate way.
  3. Match available tools to your stakeholders – Choose which tools you will use for collaboration. This can range from digital tools such as online surveys and team management through to more traditional methods such as magazine adverts and face to face meetings.
  4. Include collaboration tools – The right online collaboration software should allow you to manage all of your stakeholder tools in one place.

Discover how an online collaboration tool can help prevent project failure. Download our guide now.




Poor communication

With 57% of all projects failing due to breakdown in communications, it is clear that engagement is a key factor in the success or failure of a project.

A lack of communication can lead to team members struggling to give and receive feedback on what they’re working on, be unable to share useful resources with other key stakeholders and can create confusion over who is responsible for each aspect of the project.

The solution 

Once again, detailed planning is key. Some of the points that you will need to consider include:

  1. Identify the roles and responsibilities of team members and clearly communicate them to all stakeholders.
  2. Prioritise which communication channels should be used and when contact should take place.
  3. For meetings invite only relevant people, set an agenda and record minutes to ensure no key points are missed and time isn’t wasted unnecessarily.
  4. Develop a plan to decide when and to whom issues should be escalated to.

Taking these steps will give you the best possible chance of completing your project successfully.

top reasons for project failure


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