3 Reasons Projects Fail and How to Avoid It

By Marianne Chrisos - Last Updated on January 6, 2020
Why Do Projects Fail and How to Avoid It

With projects, it is critical to set yourself up for success.

Here are some of the top reasons for project failure, and how you can grow your chances of success.

Every business has projects of one kind or another. From marketing departments planning their next campaign to IT projects that involve migrating data and switching servers, businesses are always working on tasks to push projects forward. Some of the projects are helping internal customers, like new processes or systems for employees, or for external customers, like sales pushes and promotions that will grow revenue or innovative marketing plans to help populate lead generation databases. Regardless of the type of projects, when it comes to why projects fail, most projects have similar causes. Here we discuss some of the top reasons for project failure.

Lack of Leadership

Projects need a project manager. Sometimes this is just the manager of the group tasked with the project, but oftentimes it’s someone whose official title is project manager. This person helps to get projects kicked off and help everyone on the team get on the same page about who’s handling what aspects, what everyone’s responsibilities are, as well as the dates, deadlines, and overall project timeline.

All projects – no matter how small – need a project leader. It’s essential for any kind of teamwork projects, to make sure that everyone is pulling their weight and tracking towards completion. Many projects can be ruined by project management failures, whether it’s lack of a project manager assigned to the project or a project manager who’s ill-equipped for the responsibility of moving a project through to completion.

Lack of Training and Preparation

Relatedly, another one of the causes of project failure is a project manager who wasn’t properly trained or prepared for project management. Leaders and management need the proper training, background, and resources to properly plan and execute project management.

Some of those resources include software to handle tracking projects, like Basecamp, Trello, Smartsheet, or another proven software solution.

Another could be certification in project management that would enable those managers to grow their skills in managing projects. Effective and successful project managers are usually certified by an accredited university or by the Project Management Institute to become a Certified Associate in Project Management, Project Management Professional, Portfolio Management Professional, PMI Risk Management Professional, or PMI Agile Certified Practitioner.

Lack of Direction

It’s important that projects have the proper motivation. One of the top reasons for project failure is a failure to plan, which often stems from a lack of firm direction. Projects shouldn’t be launched and scheduled based on one enthusiastic meeting. Project success is dependent on proper planning and an understanding of the entire scope of the project and all the goals therein.

Enthusiasm is necessary for launching projects, but sometimes projects can stall due to missed deadlines, slow reviews of material, vendor issues, missed communication, or any number of issues. This kind of slowdown in momentum can not only be bad for morale, but it can also be devastating to the project itself if it’s time sensitive. That’s why having a direction and specific end goal is crucial, as that can help to give shape to a whole project and help to outline next steps, especially if a project starts to go awry or get behind.

Marianne Chrisos | Born in Salem, Massachusetts, growing up outside of Chicago, Illinois, and currently living near Dallas, Texas, Marianne is a content writer at a company near Dallas and contributing writer around the internet. She earned her master's degree in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University in Chicago and has worked in publishing, advertising, digital marketing, and content strategy.

Marianne Chrisos | Born in Salem, Massachusetts, growing up outside of Chicago, Illinois, and currently living near Dallas, Texas, Marianne is a content writer at a c...

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