The main reason why projects can fail
After many years of being involved in a variety of projects and project roles including conducting Lessons Learnt sessions, we can identify seven main reasons why projects can fail.
- Project Handover: Transferring a project from, say, a business unit manager to a project manager is often not done in person, but only by sharing documents (or just a half-hour meeting). Time is short and the project manager simply accepts a poor handover.
- Missing support: Project managers lack support from e.g., the Project Steering Committee and senior management.
- Experience: Some project managers – and members of the project team – are inadequately educated and trained in the successful execution of projects. In addition, the project manager is often simply unavailable to the team because he is involved in day-to-day activities that can easily be transferred to project team members.
- Quality issues: Those responsible regulary fail to manage quality, risk, and to optimise project opportunities, leading to uncontrolled projects.
- Scale, not skip: The available procedures and work instructions are rarely tailored to the needs of the project. The responsible persons sometimes simply skip the required procedures and work instructions instead of adapting them to the needs of the project.
- Poor change management: This one is more the rule than an exception, the process of managing change is either non-existent or not implemented at all.
- Unrealistic Milestones: Projects are regularly driven by unrealistic milestones and a debatable available budget. Milestones are quite often set by the company or client expectations but not challenged nor benchmarked. The budget is sometimes based on a few high-level figures and not built up using proper cost engineering input and not questioned by experienced cost engineers and project management. Cost benchmarking is rarely done. Certified Cost Engineers are not available or not hired through an external company.