Starting a new project is thrilling. You have your team, your goals, and your process all ready to go.\nThen, disaster hits. One small change totally derails your project.\nUnfortunately, it’s not uncommon.\n Fewer than a third of all projects were successfully completed on time and on budget over the past year.\nSource\nThat’s not the most confidence-boosting project management statistic.\nThe question is, how do you avoid project management failures?\nIn this article, we’ll cover:\n\nThe top 7 reasons why projects fail\nProject failure examples to warn you\nHow to prevent project failure\n\nLet’s get to it.\n7 common reasons why projects fail\nFailed projects aren’t just bad for company success or team morale. They’re also costly.\nFor every $1 billion invested in the United States, $122 million was wasted due to lacking project performance.\nHere are the top reasons why projects spin out of control.\n1. Missing resources\nThe lack of resources is a main reason for project management failures.\nWhile in theory resources should be allocated at the start of the project, due to lack of communication between a project manager and senior management, this step is often missed.\nOr, halfway through, it becomes clear that a project doesn’t have the team or tools to get done on time.\nAnd when resources aren’t proviced properly, the project doesn’t fully function.\n2. Poor scope\nBefore a project begins, a clear objective must be created. You should use SMART project management goals to set a finite direction, and zero in on your project’s scope.\nA subpar project scope, or lack of one altogether, is one of the main reasons why projects fail.\nSure, it seems like most projects begin with defining its objective and requirements.\nBut in fact, only about half of project managers take the time to define a project scope.\nWithout an objective, there is no stakeholder buy-in, no direction for the team, and no real understanding of what’s within or outside of scope.\n3. Project handling\nFailed projects can also be due to project handling.\nProject hiccups or eventual failure might come down to inexperienced or non-certified project managers who lack the necessary skills to carry out the life of a project.\nThat’s why it’s vital to have clearly defined project management roles and responsibilities.\nIf you’ve hired a project manager without much experience, it’s important to offer training and opportunities to gain certification so that projects can be managed smoothly. In this case, expect a period of onboarding where the team and new hire adjusts to a process.\nNo matter who you hire, there needs to be a roadmap in place so that the project manager can check in with the team on their progress at set intervals.\nIf this isn’t done, breakdowns and poor project handling can happen.\n4. No stakeholder buy-in\nThose who have worked in larger organizations know how crucial executive buy-in is. Which is why this statistic is so shocking:\n 80% of project management executives don’t know how their projects align with their company’s business strategy.\nTop management or key stakeholders need to be invested in a project from the start. If they aren’t, project management failure is almost inevitable.\nAt some point, someone might ask, “Why are we doing this again?” And you can kiss that project goodbye.\nIf it’s a project for a client or customer, the same breakdown can occur.\nWhen there’s a general lack of interest or timely feedback, projects don’t run smoothly.\nThis problem happens on both sides of a project:\n\nA project manager must communicate regularly with stakeholders.\nStakeholders must give the necessary feedback to the project manager.\n\nEveryone involved needs to contribute to the project success or it won’t work.\n5. Ignoring problems\n“La-la-la-la-la…nothing wrong here, everything’s fine.”\nYou won’t hear a good project manager say (or think) this.\nGood project managers don’t sweep issues under the rug or pretend they don’t exist. They stay on top of changes and incoming information at all times.\nIf this person notices an issue, it needs to be addressed right away.\nA little problem can turn into a major one in a small amount of time.\nSome of these red flags could be:\n\nMissed deadlines early on\nA distracted team\nIncorrect resource allocation\n\nAll of these factors need to be properly managed to avoid project management failures.\nA good way to address this is by setting project management KPIs. These act as checkpoints throughout the lifecycle of your project.\nTrack projects with easeTry the Agile PM tool, Hubstaff TasksSign up free\n6. Bad deadlines\nJust like you need a strong project objective, buy-in and good resources, you equally need a realistic deadline.\n KPMG reports that only 31 percent of companies are likely to deliver projects on time.\nIf deadlines are too tight, team members either rush to complete them or miss steps in the process.\nEither way, the end result is a poor project with a missed deadline.\nIt’s important to allow enough time for a project to be successful. A little extra time versus not completing it is a no-brainer.\n7. Lack of communication\nProbably the most important component of project management success is team communication.\nWhen there is a lack of it, the team fails.\nEven though you create a project schedule, assess risk management and plan every step of your project, projects are dynamic.\nThere are going to be unforeseen problems, resource issues, and time constraints.\nHowever, if each member works together throughout the project, these issues can be resolved and the project still stays on budget and deadline.\nImplementing a daily stand-up (made popular by Agile project management) helps open communication channels and allows team members to easily report on progress.\n\nProject failure examples\nNow that you’re aware of all the reasons projects fail, let’s look at specific examples so it’s easier to spot potential issues.\nLooking at some case studies will also illustrate these issues in action. This will help you better avoid the same pitfalls.\nIBM\nIBM was on the forefront of building a supercomputer in 1956.\nAfter that, they built the 7030, or Stretch for short.\nAlthough it was a success, it was considered a failure because the project objective was to build a computer 100 times faster for client Los Alamos National Laboratory.\nThe issue was the Stretch was roughly 30 to 40 times faster; less than half of what was projected.\nStretch became a project management failure.\n To further the damage, IBM dropped the computer price to $7.8 million from a projected $13.5 million, bringing in profits well below expectation.\nEventually, the company stopped selling the Stretch and only nine were ever built.\nKnight-Ridder\nMedia company Knight-Ridder wanted to be on the forefront of computer technology in the 80s.\nThey launched its Viewtron version of videotex first in Florida and then to other U.S. cities.\nViewtron offered banking, shopping, news, and ads all on a custom terminal with color graphics. These capabilities were better than the other competing PCs on the market.\nThe issue is that Viewtron never took off.\nThe project objective was to reach two different audiences: affluent individuals and middle-Americans. The terminal initially cost $900 and the price was dropped to $600 in hopes of increasing demand.\nThen, Knight-Ridder made Viewtron available to anyone with a PC, but by that time, there was market competition and consumers had moved on.\nThe Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)\nCalifornia wanted to update their systems technology-wise in the 80s.\nThey spent $27 million dollars on a five-year plan to create a system to track driver’s licenses and registrations.\nInstead of getting several bids from vendors, they just got one from Tandem Computers.\nThe issue was they also had to purchase hardware from Tadem due to this sole contract. It ended up costing the state $11.9 million dollars for six computers.\nNot only was this price tag expensive, but the new computers were also slower than the old system.\nEventually, California abandoned this system since it was beyond repair.\nTo make matters worse, even after it was shut down, it was still costing the state money.\nIn this case, not taking the necessary legal steps to have a solid agreement with vendors beforehand quickly added up in legal fees after the fact.\n\n\n\nHow do you prevent failures?\nThere are always going to be problems that arise during various phases of a project.\nBut how do you prevent a major one from derailing your success? There are a few steps you can take so your project is not doomed after one tiny disruption.\n1. Implement risk management\nAlthough you go into a project expecting the best, you want to be realistic.\nThere will be unforeseen issues.\nBy making risk management part of the process before and during the project, you can prevent little issues from becoming bigger ones.\nMake sure you have a solid plan in place, a clear objective, the necessary resources and a team that can cover all the project tasks.\n2. Implement Agile project management\nAs mentioned earlier, Agile project management components such as stand-ups can keep teams working in sync and outputting better products.\nUsing an Agile framework will help structure your team and prevent project management failures.\nIf you aren’t familiar with Agile, it relies on a set of key principles:\n\nIndividuals and interactions over processes and tools\nWorking software over comprehensive documentation\nCustomer collaboration over contract negotiation\n\n\nResponding to change over following a plan\n\nFocusing on these four values will steer your project in the right direction.\nTry Agile project managementHubstaff Tasks helps teams get more doneSign up free\nThe other big component of Agile is project flow. Instead of a more linear approach like Waterfall project management, Agile is built to adapt to change quickly.\nIn other words, yes there is a plan, but you can go back and make changes where changes need to be implemented. This allows your project to be more dynamic, scale if needed, and not rely on outdated information.\n3. Use project management software\nThere’s no denying it: Managing projects means juggling tasks, making sure everything’s on time, assigning projects based on workload, and much more.\nIt can be overwhelming.\nThat’s why project management software is absolutely crucial.\nAn agile project management software like Hubstaff Tasks easily organizes your information, allows for immediate communication, and is built to adapt to your team.\n\nUsing visual boards and customizing your workflow keeps you and your team on task.\nPlus, if changes need to be made, you can easily make comments indicating where team members need to pivot in a new direction.\nIt’s easy to assign team members and add deadlines. There’s even a Sprint feature that allows tasks to be prioritized and planned for the week ahead.\nThinking through your next project\nWhy do projects fail?\nAs we’ve discussed, there are several factors.\nAvoiding failure all comes down to lack of planning.\nNext time you start a new project, think through the entire process and run different scenarios to make sure your plan is concrete. Then, plan for the unexpected with the right tools.