Common reasons projects fail and how to avoid them

By Henry Brown

One area more and more small business owners are investing in is project management. After all, a business is made up of a series of different projects, and managing them effectively is the key to success. Keeping that in mind, read on to discover some of the most common reasons for project failure, as well as tips on how to avert them.

-Underestimated timelines – Underestimated timelines are more costly than you realize. By missing a deadline, you don’t merely miss a date on a calendar; your budget goes over as well. This is because workers have to be paid for more time than has been accounted for. If you’re working on a pre-set budget for a client, this means money out of your pocket since you can’t ask them to pay you for additional time spent on their project just because you initially underestimated how long the work would take.

-A lack of training – One of the main reasons why projects fail is because your project team and/or project manager does not have the required level of training. This easily happens when accidental project managers arise, i.e. employees that have simply fallen into this role. From an operations management degree to an APM project management course, there are many degrees and training courses that could take your business to the next level and ensure your projects succeed.

-Poor communication – Communication is the heartbeat of every project. If your team is not communicating properly, your projects will rarely be a success. You or your project manager needs to make sure everyone on the team thoroughly understands his or her roles and responsibilities. Effective communication also needs to occur with regards to your stakeholders. After all, if you do not communicate well and regularly, you could end up on two completely different pages.

-Ignoring risks – Risk management is one of the most important parts of project management. However, a lot of businesses simply put risks to the back of their mind, only dealing with them when they actually become a problem. If you do this, your project will be completely derailed, and you will suffer a number of failures. Instead, you need to be prepared for risks before they happen. This involves putting together a formal risk management plan. You will need to assess all potential risks, and put proposed steps in place for dealing with them if they happen. This will ensure that you can deal with them as quickly as possible if they do arise.

-Inadequate planning – Most projects fail because of the planning stage. You set your project up for failure if you have not put in the groundwork to begin with. You need to ensure you have clearly defined goals, and that you have carefully put together a schedule, which is made up of numerous milestones and targets.

-Scope creep – Who knows why they named it scope creep when it seems to happen at a rapid pace. Scope creep is something that plagues a lot of business owners. Your project ends up being completely different to what it was to begin with. This is because most customers will take a mile if you give them an inch, and so expert scope management is essential. Otherwise, you will find yourself in a position whereby you have agreed to more tasks yet the budget and deadline remains the same, i.e. you’ve given yourself an impossible mission!


Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.


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