We’ve all been there. You start off really excited about a project. You do your research, plan well, gather a good team, and get to work. And then somewhere along the way, things fall apart. Deadlines are missed. Deliverables don’t live up to expectations. Customers and bosses are dissatisfied, to say the least. It’s awful.
But why do so many projects with such great potential end up as failures?
There are a number of reasons, and the good news is that you can address each obstacle and make your next project (and the one after that and the one after that) a success.
Here’s a look at why projects fail and what you can do to turn things around.
One way to almost guarantee project failure is to begin work without clear goals and objectives. After all, there’s no way to know whether you’ve succeeded when you aren’t completely sure what you’re trying to accomplish.
Take a simple example on a personal level. Let’s say you’ve resolved to “get in shape.” What does that mean?
If you simply start exercising and/or eating better–which we should all be doing if we’re honest–your physical condition will improve, but you won’t truly know if you’ve succeeded. You need well-defined goals. Having unclear goals in your professional life is just as likely to lead to failure.
Several popular frameworks for goal setting, such as SMART goals and CLEAR goals are there but the essence is that your goals must be measurable and realistic. Don’t just say you want to “lose weight,” say you want to lose fifteen pounds in the next four months. That’s both measurable and realistic. The projects you manage are more complex than that, which is why it’s even more critical to define your objectives clearly.
We plan timelines. We plan meetings. We plan structure and themes and interfaces. But sometimes, in the midst of all that planning, we forget to plan for our resources. It’s a huge contributor to why projects fail. Project management involves resource management, often taking other projects into consideration. Most of us know that financial resource planning is important.
Here are a few questions you may want to ask when planning for other resources in your next project:
No matter how well-planned your project is, lack of visibility can lead quickly to failure. It’s essential to create a system that provides visibility, not just for the project manager but for all team members.
Project visibility includes transparency of task status, clear communication, and good document management. When everyone knows the status of each project task, they can assist or adjust accordingly. It encourages proactive work and problem-solving.
Document management doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, having a centralized, digital storage place for all project documents makes your job as a project manager easier as well as promoting visibility.
It should go without saying, but communication is key. The tools your team uses to communicate should be explained and implemented from the outset of your project. Whether it’s email, text messaging, a chat service, or some combination of things, make sure everyone on the team understands what’s expected and can use the technology you’ve selected.
Beyond the method of communication, make sure to set clear expectations and guidelines on the kinds of information that need to be communicated.
It seems so innocent at first. A simple customer request to add an item here, a brilliant idea to expand a service there, and before you know it, your project has outgrown its scope and your team is over-extended. Scope creep happens when either a) the parameters of the project were not well-defined from the outset or b) there’s pressure–either internally from the team or externally from customers or bosses–to take on tasks that were not part of the original project plan.
The problem with scope creep is that it often contributes to project failure. You haven’t budgeted the time or resources necessary to complete the extra tasks, so what might have been a smashing success ends up a frustrating failure.
Sometimes disguised as dogged optimism, unrealistic expectations have destroyed many projects. As a project manager, it’s absolutely essential to gain a clear picture of what your team can accomplish and in what time frame. Once you have aligned your expectations with reality, you must communicate them to the customer and often to your bosses.
With realistic expectations in place and understood by all stakeholders, your team has a much better chance at successful project completion.
While the pitfalls of project failure have been around for ages, there are new solutions thanks to technology. Project management software can help you avoid project failure by keeping goals in focus, assisting with resource planning, providing visibility, and facilitating communication.
A good project management platform can help you move past the question of why projects fail and concentrate on the successful execution of your projects.
Kissflow Projects is a project management software for non-project management. Its digital workspace is intuitive and enjoyable, a tool your whole team can utilize and appreciate. With beautiful visual tools and built-in communication channels, Kissflow Projects can help you make your next project a success.
*Enterprise pricing is based on expected transaction volume and maximum number of users and is only available on an annual subscription