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Why do projects fail?

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In this blog =mc‘s Senior L&D consultant Philly Graham shares ideas on why certain projects fail and what you can do to avoid this.

Why do projects fail?

Depressing though it is, I think we can all say we have been involved in a project that has gone wrong in some shape or form. But do we know why they go wrong and – if we do – are there any common characteristics we could learn from?

Last week we asked a group on our Project Management programme from across the not for profit sector this very question. Here’s what they came up with:

  1. Projects go wrong when there is a lack of communication between those working on the project. If there are lots of people involved, this can be challenging – and there is potential for conflict, especially if each member of the project team have different end goals in mind.
  2. Projects fail when there is a lack of follow up on projects tasks. People may not being doing what they need to be doing, so without follow up it means the task might not have happened. This can have a serious impact on the success of the project.
  3. It could be that funding is pulled or team members leave and aren’t replaced, making the team too small for the workload the project requires. Ultimately this means there is a lack of resource to make the project a success.
  4. They can fail when there is no support from the project sponsor, causing serious difficulties for the project team when trying to move things forward.
  5. If there is a lack of detailed planning – no risk identification or mitigation and no monitoring and adapting to changes –  then it is likely that the project could fail.
  6. The Project Manager themselves can cause their own projects to go wrong by not delegating project tasks, resulting in them being overloaded and missing their deadlines.

So as you can see, there are lots of reasons why a project might go wrong. I am sure you have others to add!

Yet we can see overarching characteristics. All these reasons come down to one of two things: problems with the people or the planning.

The key therefore to making your projects a success? Gaining control of the people and the planning from the start.

What’s next?

If you are interested in learning more about how to be a more effective project manager, why not register your interest for our Project Management programme. Or call +44 (0)20 7978 1516 and speak to one of our experienced learning and development consultants. We can help create a project management approach that works for your organisation.

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Philly Graham

About Philly Graham

Philly specialises in communications, leadership and management development and personal effectiveness. She is an accredited coach, action learning set facilitator and a CIPD Learning and Development Associate. Philly’s career...