09 Reasons for Project Failure and How to Prevent It10 min read
A study from Standish Corporation showed that up to 31% of IT projects were canceled before they were completed, another result of this study also showed that up to 52.7% of projects cost 189 % compared to the original estimate. The cost of these failures is only the tip of the iceberg. A series of lost opportunity costs cannot be measured, but easily see the loss number in the thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Also according to another statistic, Project Management Statistics publishes related figures:
- 70% of projects fail.
- A lack of clear goals is the most common factor (37%) for project failure.
- 42% of companies don’t understand the need or importance of project management.
- 55% of project managers cite budget overrun as a reason for project failure.
- 75% of respondents in the IT industry lack confidence in project success.
- 55% of project managers cite budget overrun as a reason for project failure.
- Organizations that underestimate project management see more than 50% of their projects fail.
The statistics clearly show the seriousness of the death of a technology project, it is not simply a cancellation but entails financial, capital and human consequences of the business. Through this article, Groove Technology wants to share with entrepreneurs and investors who are intending to build a technology project an overall view of the factors that directly affect the success of the project and the measures to minimize the risk of failure.
Let’s find out together!
When is a project considered a failure?
A project becomes a failure when it does not deliver what is required within the agreed budget and time. In most cases, however, stakeholders decide whether a project succeeds or fails based on their judgment and satisfaction with the results.
Some projects are also considered failures if they fail to meet financial forecasts or fail to meet their ROI goals.
09 Reasons for Project Failure and How to Prevent It
Unrealistic expectations and lack of detailed planning
Most clients have a rough idea of what they will achieve when the project is completed, but they don’t know the path or the process to get there. Therefore, they often expect projects with lower costs and shorter completion times. It is also one of the main reasons leading to the failure of the project, while the project implementer and the project manager are two different subjects, there is no agreement to discuss and exchange ideas, implementation methods, time to complete each item, etc., which easily causes inconsistencies.
In fact, customers will not know how the software development process works, how long it will take to complete an item, etc. what they need is the product delivered as soon as possible at the lowest price and highest quality. With such utopian expectations, it is difficult to complete the project.
How to prevent: The key point here is to make the reality and the work plan synchronized, which means that the stakeholders will exchange and agree on all the ideas, the content, the method, the implementation time, etc. which is called the Master Plan to follow throughout the project development process. Once this is agreed upon, the next steps can be taken.
Unclear Goals and Objectives
Once you have a specific plan for each phase and a timetable for each item, the next thing is equally important to define clear goals, avoid ambiguity about the practicality and effectiveness of the project. One of the factors that cause a project to fail right from the start is that the enterprise does not determine whether its project is intended to solve any urgent needs of society or not? Do the project’s strategic goals bring benefits to the community and customers? Why will customers need your product and not a competitor’s?
How to prevent: besides planning, defining goals for the project is also extremely important, by answering the above questions to help project managers define goals and objectives an implications for the project. Thereby increasing the excitement when working, spirit and belief are also one of the decisive factors for the success of the project
Lack of Technical Documentation
Technical documentation is extremely important in the software development process, which specifies the architectures, standards, application technologies, and it is also a detailed roadmap for the design, development, and testing parts and implementation of the proposed solutions. Software architecture should always address the most important functional and non-functional requirements, which is the key to helping business leaders make smart decisions.
Often the customers themselves do not know what they are looking for or they have difficulty communicating their vision to the development team. Either way, that lack of clarity makes projects difficult to develop.
How to prevent: together with relevant departments and experts, establish an essential set of technical standards and technical rules during the development process and ensure absolute compliance by project teams, in addition to then consult the departments directly related to the project such as the accounting, warehouse, sales, products, etc. and above all, technical advice of experts who are developers, software engineers, and a group of experts involved in the project.
The leader’s vision
No matter how well-planned your project is, the lack of an assertive leader can quickly lead to failure. It is essential to create a smooth system from management to operation, not only for the project manager but for all team members. The vision of a well-led team includes project transparency on task status, clear communication, and good document management. Besides, the team leader is also an experienced person who knows how to manage risks and manage human resources skillfully, they act as a bridge between sponsors, executive team, and customers.
How to prevent: Team leader assigns and manages the task status of each member, promptly supports or transfers personnel, allocates time to ensure the progress of the work and in accordance with the ability of each member. Regularly communicate with stakeholders. This encourages initiative and thoroughly solves problems that arise internally.
Reluctance to change the mindset
One of the barriers to project success is when there is a transfer of old technology and new technology, the entry of outsourced developers and in-house staff also led to cultural conflicts and current rules. Employees or even business owners can get stuck in existing internal rules and find it difficult to accept new ways of doing projects. The ideology of resistance to change almost exists in many businesses, which greatly reduces the growth of the business.
How to prevent: we must drastically build a “culture” from the very beginning, even before implementing new processes and solutions. The right “culture” comes down to consistency and support – especially for frontline workers, middle managers, help them understand thoroughly why they must do what they are doing.+
Inappropriate application of technology and tools
We are in a digital age, an era of information technology so knowledge for each person is limitless, it takes us many years to tolerate and become proficient in new technology and of course, every people will have their own strengths.
The choice of technology to apply to the project is often equated with the qualifications and knowledge of the project implementer, this causes difficult to apply advanced support tools to your project, you know how to use this tool but it is not suitable for your project, or if you are using an old protocol, with poor flexibility, difficult to convert to a new one, with more flexible. Which will cause many difficulties in technology transfer in the future.
How to prevent: this is a key factor in deciding the right staffing of the team for each different project so that building the project becomes easy to transfer and easy to maintain. Serious discussion with project stakeholders to determine the most appropriate technology platform and development method, the most flexible to operate, and even consider conversion options when necessary.
Lack of Testing
The test run step is always a necessary step before assessing whether the project has been officially announced or not, but when there is a problem with the deadline, this step is also unfortunately omitted. This also brings failure to the project and is also a consequence of having a specific time plan, until the sprint phase there is absolutely no time for software engineers to run test demos to detect and fix bugs during the test run.
Neglecting the testing phase leads to a faulty product that even the publisher can’t control, putting it on the market will greatly affect product quality, interrupt service, violate the security and adversely affect the reputation of the business. Usually, the steps to perform patching and fixing problems are less expensive when detected early.
How to prevent: The testing phase should be embedded throughout the programming process, which is standard in any Agile or DevOps practice. The project engineering team and the quality assurance team work together to ensure that all phases are tested and properly operational before moving on to another one. The inspection should be carried out and adjusted continuously throughout the process.
Ignore the customer-centric factor
Customer-centricity is a prerequisite of any product in the market if it wants to survive and compete. The ultimate purpose of the product is to serve the customer, so the application developer must know how to make his products bring the most value to the user and scoring in their eyes is the ultimate success of a product. Regardless of whether small or large businesses need to pay attention to collecting customer opinions before and after implementing their projects, understanding and bringing value to their customers is all that sellers need to achieve.
How to prevent: Right from the ideation stage, business owners must consider the reality of the project, to see what problems their project will solve for current customers and why they should use your service, not your competitor’s. Throughout the implementation process, always put yourself in the position of an end-user to feel and do not forget to consult the group of potential customers, continuously improve and meet their needs so that the product is competitive and superior to the competition.
Lack of focus on software maintenance
Too often, writing a piece of software does not simply stop at publishing the software, but it is a long process after that. The commercialization of applications on the stores is not only promotion and sales but also a channel to collect end-user feedback after they experience the service, based on which developers will upgrade and modify to suit the market needs of each period. Setting application maintenance budgets is often overlooked at the initial financial planning stage, which causes budget overruns when technical issues arise after launching. Maintenance cost is a fixed cost that must be established and maintained annually to ensure stable product operation and end-user satisfaction.
How to prevent: in addition to the application programming budget, the investor must also budget for the annual maintenance of the application, this cost is about 20% of the total initial development cost. Regularly maintain infrastructure, update content, manage push notifications thoroughly and efficiently, improve user interface and user experience through current trends and customer feedback on app stores, and also do not forget to update new features to satisfy the needs of customers. Of course, the testing department always has to check, detect and patch errors if any to ensure the application operates in its best state.
How Groove Technology can help you avoid project failure
The project management statistics and key causes we listed in this article hope to help you understand that proper management is the key to reducing failure rates. Considering that in the implementation process there is a lot of overlap between these risks. But in the end, they all point to the root cause – poor planning.
There are many reasons why software development projects fail, customer and stakeholder expectations will constantly change during project completion, make it difficult to achieve project objectives.
Although the pitfalls of project failure have existed for a long time, there are new solutions thanks to technology and our software developers at Groove Technology that can help you avoid common software project risks and develop solutions that perfectly align with your customers and business goals. Leveraging a lean and agile approach, we deliver digital solutions, create value with specialized product strategy and management, user experience design, and expertise in software engineering and data on the mobile, cloud, and disruptive technologies.