Project Failure

Project Failure

Change Management and Implementation/MGT 362


Project Failure

Most organizations have experienced projects that failed at some point. Whether the project did not meet the scheduled deadline, the project went over budget, or the project did not produce expected/favorable outcomes, something did not happen as planned, and thus, failed in some way. There are various pitfalls that can derail projects. This paper will discuss three reasons why projects can fail. I will take a look at each issue as well as propose solutions that will eliminate the problem and turn the initiative into a success.

Potential Failure # 1

One reason for project failure is poor planning. Poor planning can occur when: the initial requirements analysis was poorly down; end users were not bought into the planning early enough; the project was oversimplified; change control was lacking along with communication among stakeholder was poor.

We’ve all heard the saying: “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” When it comes to projects, poor planning is one of the main reasons they fail, fall behind schedule or miss their deadlines. (Time Thoughts. Resources for Personal Career & Success. Retrieved May 26, 2018.) Without proper planning, it is difficult to really understand what it will take to complete a project successfully.

Proposed Solution

Poor planning can be avoided by ensuring that everyone involved in the project are on the same page and clearly understand the vision, priorities, budget and deadlines. It is important to identify a timeline and schedule that reflects the work requirements, details deliverables, breaks down work requirements and projects milestones. All of these should be developed and approved by management from the very beginning of the project. Managers should speak with transparency, confidence and probability regarding commitment dates as well as Use a scheduling tool that supports the estimated commitments. Data should be used to predict the likelihood of project completion dates and how the project plans for uncertainty and allows for changes.

Potential Failure # 2

Another reason projects fail is due to poor risk management. In general, most business will take on some degree of risk management in order to achieve objectives. The key is to reduce the organization’s risk and vulnerability through identifying, assessing and prioritizing the different types of risks. This will ensure the risks are anticipated ahead of time and managed in a way that reduces the organization’s vulnerability.

Proposed Solution

As stated above, the key is to reduce the organization’s risk and vulnerability through identifying the different types of risks. This should be done by the risk management team. Having a risk management team in place will help projects execute more smoothly as well as ensure all involved in the project understand the risks, are actively involved in the communication process and are held accountable for their part. Risk management is such a critical part to the project’s success and company the risk proactively instead of reactively.

Planning and adjusting for uncertainty promotes better risk management. If projects didn’t pose a certain level of uncertainly and risks, there wouldn’t be a need to manage them. Unidentified risks can result in schedule delays, poor estimates and numerous changes. Risk management will adopt solutions that embrace and manage all potential risk and uncertainty related to the project.

The Risk Management Team should work in conjunction with and follow the guidelines of the organization’s Quality Management System. Both will ensure that processes, procedures, and responsibilities for achieving project objectives are adhered to. These systems also ensure compliance and best practices across the entire organization to meet project expectations as well as deliver high-quality results.

Potential Failure # 3

Finally, most projects fail due to failure to communicate. Too often, communication between project drivers, managers, employees and stakeholders break down once the project gets going and everyone is in the thick of the work. It is very common for this failure to be recognized at the most inconvenient stage: when the impact on costs, schedules and outcomes is at its highest. Acknowledging and resolving these issues at this time would greatly disrupt project workflow, however it is necessary to stop and reassess to ensure the project stays on track and meets all expectations agreed upon at the onset.

Proposed Solution

One way to avoid this pitfall is to develop a plan that covers a clear process and protocol for communication. This process is strictly followed from the onset of the project. Ensuring managers understand this process as well as how to effectively communicate is necessary. The responsibility of communicating project expectations to all employees, while emphasizing transparency and the importance of quality while meeting set deadlines falls on them.

There are many facets to consider when planning your communication. Just as each person is different, with varying characteristics, so are the many communication methods used to convey a message. There are subtle ways of communicating which can include body language, arrangement of furniture and the workspace. Good, effective communication should be fostered internally and externally, with all stakeholders, keeping all the varying ways people communicate in mind. Relevant, transparent information should be communicated to the appropriate people, the appropriate way at the appropriate time.

Updates should be provided to all stakeholders throughout the duration of the project, using various information channels. All communication should effectively meet the diverse needs of all stakeholders while allowing for all involved to ask questions as well as send and receive information in a clear and concise manner. This includes consistently having an “open-book” mindset and ensuring leaders and employees are accessible, acknowledge facts, face hurdles and accept accountability for individual and organizational failures.

Honest communication can make all the difference when building relationships and especially when planning a project or implementing a necessary change that will affect stakeholders. Being willing and available to answer any questions is also crucial to allowing the employees feel valued and part of the project and potential changes implemented.


In the business world, project of various types with varying degrees of complexity are inevitable and necessary to meet industry standards, compete with competitors and meet customer expectations. Proper planning, risk management and effective communication will ensure that projects are executed right and in a timely manner in order for goals and objectives to be met. Being aware of potential project failures and how to manage them can help ensure an organization does not fall victim to them.


Gibbons, P. (2015). The Science of Successful Organizational Change: How Leaders Set Strategy, Change Behavior, and Create an Agile Culture. Retrieved from VitalSource Bookshelf.

Time Thoughts. Resources for Personal Career & Success. Retrieved May 26, 2018. May 26, 2018.