3. Weak Requirements Definitions (Leads to
If you don’t know where you are going then how do you know when you get
there? A good project manager must know what the target is. Your project
requirements are the target. One way of defining requirements is to describe what
the end result looks like in measureable or object terms. Instead of requiring
software to be friendly or easy to use, how about saying that it has to be simple
enough that a 12 year old child can use it. We can argue about “easy to use”
software but at least we now have an objective measure for our testing.
4. Inefficient way to document and track
– this is an oversight on the part of the project manager. Tracking milestones is a
crucial way to see if expectations are being met. Documentation and tracking also
lets the manager identify which areas require more resources to be completed on
5. Unrealistic project deadlines.
This often comes in two forms. The most common one is dealing with deadlines
that are inadequate, such as management wanting us to complete a four-month
project in three weeks. Most times, when time becomes a big constrain, we begin
to cut down on the project scope or quality to meet the almost impossible
deadline. It is our duty as project managers to give adequate estimate of schedule
when undertaking a project. In situations where projects are time-constrained, fast
tracking and crashing should be considered first before revising the project scope.
6. Lack of change control system:
As mentioned earlier, changes are bound to occur in a project. These changes
could come in various forms, from the client, the management, consumers, the
project manager, the government, or even from a member of the project team.
When a change request is initiated, it is important to goes through a change
control system before being implemented or rejected.
7. Late involvement of project manager.
We often get commissions as project managers for projects that are halfway
through the implementation phase. Sometimes, these projects never had a project
managers and we cannot comprehend why projects of such magnitude would
even begin without the involvement of a qualified project manager. Often, when
we begin working on such a project, we spend more time trying to understand the
existing situation and correcting the root cause of the errors, which leads to an
extended schedule and cost.
8. Lack of project management practice in an
. Some of you are already wondering if there are organizations that carry out
projects without using project management principles. The simple answer is a
capital YES. Actually, there are more organizations that implement projects
without any project management techniques than these who do. This might be
good, since it means that there are still lots of job out there for us as project
9. Unclear Project Objectives
Most organizations have more opportunities and project initiatives than they can
ever hope to fulfill. Many companies embark upon more initiatives than they
probably should, causing over worked and often unhappy team members.
10. Weak Project Management
Your project manager needs to be able to deal with all of the project logistics. They
can’t get caught up in one aspect, and drop everything else. They need to be able to
– manage time
– manage money
– lead effectively
– measure performance
– make decisions
– understand how to analyze test results and adapt the program as necessary
While this seems to be obvious, projects fail because their manager was not able to
balance all of the above. Make sure your PM can handle it.
11. Trying to Make the Project Inexpensive
We all like cutting corners and saving money, right? reasons tech projects failIt’s
great … until your program breaks. Not allotting adequate funds to a project can
have serious consequences. Initially underfunded projects come back late, over
budget, and are often missing features or have quality issues. The moral of the
story? If you want to have it all, you’ll have to pay for it. Otherwise, your project is
going to fail
12. Rank Project Initiatives
It is the role of executive management to determine the organization's long term
goals and the strategies for attaining those goals. Once these goals are clearly
defined, then project initiatives may be weighed against these goals. So if a
project initiative does not fit the long or short terms goals of an organization, it
should not be embarked upon. Then, the remaining projects may be ranked in
order of priority.
13. Not Using the Right Technologies
There are two reasons that a project can fail technically:
1. Using something, like a language, that isn’t the best for a project. This often
happens because of a team lead’s preference. Make sure that the technology
aligns with what’s best for the program.
2. The technologists who are working on the project don’t have the experience or
expertise to fulfill their roles. This means that you can’t hand out roles without a
lot of thought. Make sure that each person has a role that they are capable of
14. Gaps in Communication
Once a project is in full swing, a common issue is communication. Most project
teams use email to communicate about their projects and tasks. The biggest
complaint here is that project communication resides in each individual's email
box. So, if a new resource joins the project, there is no centralized view of the
15. Inadequate Planning, Assumptions, Risks, or
If you are planning a project, then you should be familiar with Murphy’s Law, “If
anything can go wrong it will”•Projects are frequently impacted by risks,
assumptions about resource usage, or plain old surprises. The traditional solution
is to add safety time or buffers to tasks to allow for schedule slippage and
unplanned events. There are a lot of reasons why this fails too. I would suggest
implementing Critical Chain management to take more control over these buffers
and prevent causes of project management failures.
16. Poor leadership at any level
– the “leader” is usually identified as the project manager. However, the
management-level executive also has a responsibility of ensuring the project’s
success. He/she should work together with the manager to ensure that the
company’s exact requirements are understood.
17. Use of New or Unproven Technologies/Methods
It can be so tempting to use the latest technology, or new method, but unless you
are trained on the newest thing, all you are doing is introducing new risks. Projects
have enough risks already without the need to introduce new risk from unproven
18. Ineffective (or Nonexistent) Quality
Quality control is a simple system of checks and balances to ensure you are
delivering what the customer asked for in the first place. What kind of quality
control are you using for your project management? Are you tracking every
project management nonconformance? Charting to find trends? Taking action
when the trend is outside the norm? Most projects have a system for correcting
problems but this is not the same as a system of corrective action. Ineffective
quality controls are definitely one of the causes of project management failures.
19. Managing Multiple Projects at Once or
It seems so obvious to recapture downtime and juggle a few extra tasks in the
meantime. But multitasking introduces complexity and schedule risk, which can
impact all projects involved. Less is more. Focus is power. You can actuallyincrease
your productivity by focusing on fewer projects.
20. Supply Chain Failures
Sometimes you have to contract out the work. But managing contractors has
inherent risks too. Contractors may not have the skill level required for the task.
Contractor’s multi-task in order to stay busy, and multitasking introduces
complexity and schedule risk. It sounds so easy to contract out some of the work
to your supply chain but it actually adds to complexity (which can lead to causes
of project management failures) unless you have clearly defined requirements
agreed to first.
21. Lack of Qualified Resources
“We will just have to make do”•If you hear this then you know you are questioning
your resources. Give the wrong task to the wrong person and you are impacting
your project. This usually happens because we lack enough experienced resources
22. Scope Creep or Poor Impact Analysis
This happens on practically every project doesn’t it? You start with a clear concept
or at least you thought it was clear when you started. Then one thing leads to
another and before you know it you are involved in a different project. That’s
scope creep. If we are doing “A”then we must do “B”and if we are do “B”then we
have to also do “C”•. Clarifying the real requirements and performing a good
impact analysis are two methods to solve this problem. Otherwise, scope creep
will impact your schedule, your budget, and your resources.
23. Failure to set expectations and manage
– in working in a team setting, it is critical that you’re able to manage people. If
and when expectations are not met, there should be clearly-defined
consequences. The task should then be prioritized and possibly reassigned to a
more competent individua
24. Inadequately-trained project managers
– the project manager is taking on a heavy responsibility. It is important to assign
management roles only to individuals who have the capabilities to meet
requirements. In some cases, poorly-trained managers are assigned to complex
projects; this is a recipe for failure.
25. Inaccurate cost estimation
– there are instances when the cost of an undertaking is grossly underestimated.
When it runs out of resources, the project cannot be completed. This can be
mitigated when the lack of resources is identified early by the project manager
26. Incomplete or vague project workplan
Your work plan (schedule) is the roadmap that describes how you are going to
complete the work. You'll have problems if your work plan is at too high a level,
incomplete or not up-to-date. You may get away with it on a small project, but it
will be fatal on a larger effort.
27. Lack of communication at any level
– communication between the management executive and the project manager,
and between the latter and the team members are always important. Everyone
should feel free to come forward to state their concern or give suggestions.
28. Lack of stakeholder consultation
Stakeholders are people with an interest in the outcome of the project or its
processes. Major stakeholders play an essential role in defining requirements and
scoping out the work at the beginning and in providing feedback as the work is
proceeding. Communicating and consulting with stakeholders throughout the
entire project is a time consuming task and is often neglected. The inevitable
result is project deliverables that bear little resemblance to what was in the minds
of the key stakeholders.
29. Unrealistic project estimates
For anything larger that a small project, specific costs, schedules and deliverables
are always difficult to discern when a project is conceived. In organizations where
the only projects that get rejected are the ones with accurate estimates, realistic
projections are deliberately hidden. Where accuracy is the goal, breaking the
project into phases and applying a structured analysis will help determine
30. No risk management plan
Understanding risk and compiling plans for dealing with it are critical components
of project management. Poor risk management is a leading cause of project
failure, with more than three in four project managers not dealing with risk
consistently.2 Understandably, failing to assess what might happen and planning
for the mitigation of negative impacts causes missed deadlines, budget overruns
and, ultimately, failed projects.
31. Culture or ethical misalignment
– the culture of the company must prize competence, pro-activeness, and
professionalism. If it doesn’t, the team members may not have the motivation to
do their best. In essence, everyone involved must be concerned about the success
of their undertaking.
32. Competing priorities
– when a company’s resources are stretched, there will be competing priorities in
terms of manpower and financing. Having good cost estimation at the start will
eliminate this problem.
33. Disregard of project warning signs –
when a project is on the verge of failing, there will always be warning signs. Taking
action immediately can save the project. Otherwise, the whole endeavor can just
go down the drain.
34. Bad Communications
Project management is all about good communications. You have to keep
everyone informed about changes, assumptions, requirements, standards,
budgets, costs, and the schedule. Developing a good visual management system
is a tremendous benefit to any project manager. Paper systems in binders is a
notoriously bad way to keep people informed. Develop a good communication
system and you won’t have to worry about one of the causes of project
35. Poor Schedule or Resource Management
Managing a project is really about managing the schedule, but a schedule is really
a collection of resources that are being managed on a schedule. You increase the
chances of having one of the cause of project management failures if you
mismanage your resource schedule.
36. Weak ongoing project management
Some project managers do a great job in the upfront planning process, but then
don't manage the project effectively from that point on. This includes having
problems managing scope change, resolving issues, communicating proactively
and managing project risks.
37. People problems
In my experience, people tend to get along fine when the project is on track.
However, if the project gets into trouble, people start to work longer hours, feel
more stress, get more edgy and have more personality conflicts. While it is
certainly possible that these problems are actually causing the project to slip, it is
also likely that other problems are causing the problem and that the people
problems are a later symptom
38. Inadequate resources
This covers a lot of areas. You may not have the right level of resources because
you didn't estimate the work correctly. You might have estimated the work
correctly, but your management has not allocated the proper level of staffing. It's
possible that you have enough bodies, but you don't have people with the right
skill mix. All of these may lead to major project failures.