Why do projects fail?

Published on Monday 4 June 2012 by in Blog with 1 comment

Trend reports still show that 70% of IT projects are over time, over budget or fail to deliver the required results. In todays economic climate organizations are seeking to control costs. Wasted time, effort and money can no longer be tolerated. Coupled with the growing importance of IT, business managers demand improved project governance and project success. Failing projects are a risk to business operations.

So why do projects keep failing. Gamingworks analyzed the variety of research reports and experts relating to project failures. We stopped at 13! There are an unending supply of top 10, top 5, top tips, top failure lists. A summary of these 13 separate lists and identified the following key reasons…..so we created a 14th!

This list has been updated with the feedback from more than 500 organizations having participated in project management simulation ‘The Challenge of egypt’

Poor sponsor involvement, passive involvement of senior management, not enough commitment at executive level, poor guidelines from senior management, poor management of executive level involvement

12

Poor end user involvement, poor business involvement throughout the project, poor management of user involvement by the project

10

Poor ongoing planning, not enough time and effort on planning, poor contingency planning

9

Poor time management, time needed, time allowed, unrealistic timescales

9

Resources being taken off projects, poor resource management in multi project environment

8

Scope change, specifications change over time because of poor scoping

8

Lack of leadership, too much focus on method and not on behavior, too little interpersonal skills

9

Poor project management discipline, poor project management practices and method, poor tooling, poor change management, poor risk management

8

Poor requirements specification, client uncommunicative

8

Wrong resources allocated (skills)

7

Too internally focused, not enough alignment to changing business goals, not enough regulatory checks

8

Poor prioritization of projects, continual checking of business case, changing goals & demands of business

6

Unclear roles and responsibilities, role confusion, no accountability

7

Poor financial & costs management, poor checking of return on project investment, poor budgeting

4

Poor definition of outcomes, business case, how project supports business goals

6

Poor scope definitions

3

Poor knowledge capture, evaluation success and failure, learning from mistakes

3

Unmanaged expectations, unrealistic expectations

3

Poor quality management

2

Project managers without authority

2

Poor testing

2

Not enough focus on people, managing stakeholders, expectations, leadership

4

Too many projects in portfolio

1

Project results thrown over the wall

5

 

Recognizing them is one thing but what can you do to address them? One way is to confront people with the reasons and then let them change and improve themselves. Easily said. By confronting people we don’t mean show them the list. We mean let them experience the fail factors, and let them see and feel the consequences. The next step is let THEM then define and test a solution and see, feel and experience the results. However you don’t want to do this is a live project environment!. Why? for one thing it is too costly and risky, and two it takes too much effort and time to manage the learning process.

That is why people are turning towards business simulations as an instrument for ‘learning-by-doing’. Place people into a simulated environment in which they can experience the failure factors and more importantly the success factors in 1 day. No risk, no wasted costs.

The Challenge of Egypt is our Project management simulation. In this simulation participants play a project organization. The steering group (executive board) is confronted with the role of executives in good project steering. The project team is confronted with a need to agree requirements and outcomes with both the Business executives and the User organization. In the Challenge the Pharao comes with scope changes. The team is faced with external influences such as wars, deseases. The team need to manage expectations, manage scope changes, manage their on-going planning and allocation of scarce resources to build the Pyramid on time, withing budget and meeting quality expectations. It is a tough challenge in which participants are confronted with a need to display leadership and interpersonal skills.

Recognize any of these problems in your project organization? do you dare to test YOUR project management skills by building the Pyramid of Cheops? can you perform as well as the Egyptians over 2000 years ago? Try the Challenge of Egypt.

Also we are looking to gather YOUR list of key reasons projects fail. Got any worst practices you want to share with us? what worst practice is number 1 in your organization? Let us know. Let us know what YOU did to solve it.

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1 comment

Can I suggest a related resource? Why Projects Fail is an in-depth book containing suggestions and recommendations regarding failed projects, case studies and analysis.

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