Project Killer: the 6 main reasons for the failure of a project

the project killers

The project killers are always around the corner.

What we can do as a project manager is to understand when we are not working in the most effective way on a project with our team.

Between rapidly evolving technology and intense programs, it is easy to use outdated or incorrect practices that kill the efficiency of the team and, consequently, the project in general.

Here is a list of the 6 main reasons for the failure of a project and some suggestions on how to overcome them.

Project Killer n°1: Unrealistic deadlines

Nobody can argue on this: Deadlines are important. However, the most important part of the deadlines is to respect them by keeping your feet firmly on the ground.

Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Find out how many people will work on a project: This information will help provide a more realistic estimate of time.
  • Ensure that team members know exactly who will work on which project task and for how long. In this way, the time spent on personal vacations, illnesses, and other possible interference will not ruin the program.

It is important to find a good estimate of how long the project should last in hours, or at least in days or months. Once this estimate is obtained, a so called emergency time must be added.

If it is a project that has already been implemented several times, 5% more of the time may be sufficient.

If it is a new project, it may be necessary to add up to 50% of the initial estimate, depending on the type of project and sector.

Unexpected surprises always happen, so it is important to always have some extra time in case of sudden problems.

Moreover, unrealistic deadlines often involve too long time frames.

If you have a distant deadline, you might run into the mistake of postponing too long.

A key tip here is:

When the timeline of a project is underestimated, the result is much more serious than a simple deadline missed in the calendar.

An example? Workers must be paid for longer working hours and the budget will go beyond what was initially planned.

Project Killer n°2: Scope Creep

Almost 75% of project managers think their project is doomed from the start. Why? The main reason is the too frequent change in the scope and requirements of the project.

How can you expect the team members to carry out the activities when the project scope and the results are not clear?

In the absence of a document that formalizes the scope of the project, it is not possible to assign activities, let alone monitor the performance of one’s team, because, first of all, the scope of the project is not clear.

Having this detailed document that highlights all the requirements of the stakeholders, is indispensable for the success of a project, as it allows the team members to understand what they have to do and establish a clear direction to follow and a goal to reach.

The scope is simply the overview of what a project will provide.

Project Killer n°3: Wrong information

If you do not know an answer, you should definitely not give – to a superior, customer, or anyone else – information that may be incorrect.

If the project manager is not sure of the timing of a project, before giving a response, he should consult with the team that will be responsible for carrying out the activities.

It is better to say “I don’t know” or “I need more information” rather than providing information that has a high probability of being wrong.

In this case, selecting the right project manager and forming a competent team is essential for the success of the project.

Project Killer n°4: Bad monitoring and risk management

In today’s world, change is happening faster than ever.

So, everybody should expect possible changes in the requirements or the presence of contingencies, problems, and risks during the life cycle of a project.

However, uncontrolled changes and ignoring such problems cause chaos and, consequently, even project failure.

Most project managers know that risk management is an important part of project management.

Projects where little or no emphasis is placed on risk management, fail to achieve their goals and go well beyond the planned deadline or budget.

Project Killer n°5: Communication issues

Everyone knows how vital it is to proactively share information and knowledge during a project. And still, poor communication continues to cause project teams to stumble sometimes.

If the project manager and his team do not work on improving communication skills, disasters can be just around the corner.

It is therefore essential to prevent communication errors from occurring.

We know that not only during a project, but also in personal life, the lack of communication can cause very important problems.

And speaking of project management, communication must not only be effective and efficient between team members, but also between the team and the project manager, with customers, with suppliers, with top management, and with all the other teams that could be involved in the project.

Project Killer n°6: Unsuitable, new, or unfamiliar tools

We are trying to understand the common mistakes that can undermine the success of a project in order to do everything possible to anticipate the damage.

An inevitable damage can also derive from the use of inadequate or unfamiliar tools by the team.

Inadequate project management softwares can certainly be one of the most terrible killers of a project. We have tried to give you advice on how to choose a project management software in this article.

Having the right project management software that works and is used correctly by the team will surely make a difference.

A good project management tool is essential for the success of any project. Whether it is a CRM system or a detailed order tracking system, these tools are a fundamental component for the success of any project.

However, a common mistake that many project managers often make is to let the team use a new or unknown tool, and without adequate training.

This can lead to serious problems during the project life cycle, as the team has to fulfil its duties for the project and at the same time learn how to use the new tool as quickly as possible.

This can easily lead to delays or problems, if the tool is too new and unfamiliar for the team.

The rule, therefore, is to allow the team to use the existing tools for any new or current project and to ensure that the adoption of a new project management tool is accompanied by adequate training and in reasonable time.

project killers

In conclusion, the first step to avoid the main reasons that can lead to project failure is to know them and to know the possible solutions to apply.

It is important to engage personally every day, whether you are a project manager or a team member, in order to avoid the mistakes we have been talking about in this article.

We have the tools, we have the culture.

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