9 main causes of project failure (and how to fix it)

Thumbnail for the blog article 9 causes of project failure and how to solve it

Will you be selecting the next project to launch any time soon? But before you do, you want to make sure it’s successful. In this post, Sciforma, project portfolio management software, will discuss 9 main causes for project failures and how to avoid them.


Identify & anticipate potential risks to ensure your project’s success

One of the biggest mistakes project management champions and sponsors make is not being able to properly identify the potential problems. The consequence of this is always the same: delays, budget overruns, frustrations, or even project cancellation key performance indicators (KPIs), you’ll be able to easily identify and quantify the major difficulties that will impact your company’s productivity.


Project Waste as the main issue within a project

Because non-value-added work represents a much larger percentage of project resource consumption than value-added work (i.e. up to 90%), improving productivity for non-value added tasks versus value-added tasks yields a much greater impact on overall project delivery productivity. If you focus only on the 10%, the simple math tells you that you are constrained to single-digit productivity improvements.

Project waste is mostly caused by :

1. Lack of formal/central information repository

The lack of a central information repository is often reflected by poor data visibility caused by a general use of scattered individual documents making it impossible to get access to this data when you need it.

2. Relying on an offline manual process

Most of those tasks are executed manually usually waste and make it impossible to generate reliable reporting. As a consequence, anticipating potential issues becomes even harder.

3. A lack of automation of simple high volume tasks

Those simple and non-value added tasks are sources of frustration and demotivation within the team's project. It is essential to automate them as much as possible.


A long Project Cycle Time can lead to a decrease of resources’ productivity

The consequence of sub-optimal project cycle times is delayed time to market which may result directly in losses in revenue, savings, customer satisfaction, and market share. Optimizing resource utilization and productivity is the key to minimizing project cycle times.

A few issues can cause project delays :

4. Lack of resource management process and supporting technology maturity

Not having the right resources with the right skills available to expedite project execution. A planification tool can help simple visualize and identify available resources.

Insufficient resource visibility and utilization tracking process and/or tools

Both idle and “burned out” resources impact productivity. It is essential to set up processes that follow their actual work.

6. Insufficient capacity management process

The inability to plan necessary resources within the organisation reveals an issue at the capacity level. Capacity issues often mean new delays...


Choose quality over quantity to limit the number of failed projects

One bad investment decision can dramatically impact profitability and in some (extreme) cases represent an existential threat to the company. Getting “business alignment” right is the most important project selection criteria.

A low added-value project selection or execution can result in different problems :

7. Continuous business priority changes and technology disruptions

One of the main difficulties in the execution of business projects lie in the inconsistency of the corporate strategy where the priorities change regularly. The company then loses productivity by working on wrong projects.

8. Track record of disconnects between business and project success metrics, and understanding of business value

Between forecasts, simulations and execution, the gaps can be large. Follow-up and reinforcement is essential to avoid failure in completing business initiatives.

9. Lack of clarity on business objectives and how projects contribute to the success of the business

Without proper communication, teams can end up feeling frustrated as company goals, strategy, and orientations are not clearly communicated to them.


How to solve those 9 issues ?

Most of the difficulties mentioned above can easily be solved by implementing a PPM tool, allowing better communication, planning and project monitoring. Find yours by following our Guide to selecting the right PPM partner.

Dive deeper into Problem Identification and Quantification by downloading our guide to self-assess your PMO for project delivery efficiency and effectiveness.

Banner presenting the self-assessment guide to download


Valerie Zeller

Valerie is Sciforma Chief Marketing Officer and likes to research and share how a Project and Portfolio Management Solution can help you achieve your business goals. Main interests: digital transformation, change management, strategy execution. Send your thoughts @valeriezeller