The Reasons Why Project Fail

There are various pitfalls that sink projects that had initially been
destined to succeed. Different reasons have emerged as to why projects
fail. One of the reasons leading to the failure of a project entails a
lack of visibility the three tiers of a project team (the executive,
project managers and team members) need access to the right information
at the correct time. The executive management usually complains that
they lack visibility of all current enterprise projects they lack
access to the project schedules in time. At times, project managers
provide the plan at the outset of a project and become gatekeepers of
the schedule, and often claim to the executives that the project
schedule has not been recently updated therefore, not ready to be
shared (Matta & Ashkenas, 2003). The executives lack access to a
schedule until it is too late to redirect or cancel the project. The
project managers are usually preoccupied with management issues and
resources re-organization such that they lack time of updating the tasks
on the project schedule and reviewing their impacts. In environments
where projects are fast paced, a project manager work on several
projects at the same time. This makes the project manager fail to know
exactly the tasks that the resources are working on at a particular day.
Therefore, the team members lack visibility regarding the tasks that
they should work on, when dealing with multiple projects because they
become confused by task priority. This leads to project failure hence,
the project manager can influence project outcomes through project
Unclear project objectives constitute another reason for project
failure. Some organizations fail to sufficiently define their strategies
and goals. In case the top management is not clear regarding project
priorities, then the entire organization will also be unclear regarding
which projects to prioritize based on importance (Matta & Ashkenas,
2003). Most organizations become busy such that they forget a key
constituent of success is taking the time to discuss goals and
strategies for reaching the goals of a project. Most projects become
eliminated for not matching with the goals of an organization
(Tonnquist, 2009). Organizations have more project initiatives than they
are capable of fulfilling they embark on more initiatives than they
should, leading to overworked and unhappy team members. Because of a
lack of realistic and clear objective, an organization is not capable of
organizing a project properly leading to the failure of the project.
When multitasking projects, there must be a clear objective regarding
which project to prioritize failure of prioritizing overworks team
members, which make some to leave an organization. This abandons a
project in a hectic environment. Therefore, a project manager will
influence the outcome of a project through project prioritizing.
Besides, gaps in communication entail another reason leading to the
failure of a project (Larson & Gray, 2011). Communication on the
progress of a project is usually done through the sending of emails to
different stakeholders by the project manager. Therefore, in case a new
resource joins the project at a certain level, there is no centralized
view regarding the project history. For example, in case a new executive
joins an organization, he will have a rough time catching up with the
details of an ongoing project. At times, project managers may send
emails to an entire group, but there may be a problem in replying, where
some team members may forget replying to all members by not clicking on
‘reply to all’ option but assume that every member received an
email. On the other hand, the emails sent to team members are bulky,
which implies that the team members take time sorting out the relevant
messages this time could rather be used in working on some project
tasks. In addition, resource workload is also another reason leading to
the failure of a project. Sometimes, organizations believe that they can
achieve more than their capacity, which leads to overworking of
resources. In case project priorities are not well established, there is
a high likelihood of an organization embarking on many projects at the
same time (Larson & Gray, 2011). This results in work overload to the
team members. Overworked team members are likely to resign and look for
work elsewhere this leaves projects hanging and may eventually fail.
Therefore, sufficient resources need to be assigned to a particular
project to ensure its success. In case project managers do not allocate
sufficient resources to a project, the project is bound to fail
(Meredith & Mantel, 2012).
As I worked in the TD Bank, I experienced a technology project failure.
The bank had started a project, which was aiming at helping consumers
make deposits and withdraw cash from their bank accounts through the use
of mobile phones. The project kicked on successfully, but it failed
after a new bank CEO was introduced into the project when the CEO, who
had started the project retired. The new CEO did not know where to start
in order to proceed with the project. A communication barrier existed
between the CEO and the project manager, which made the project to fail.
However, after two years, the CEO gained the project details and was
capable of finishing the project successfully.
Larson, E.W. & Gray, CF. (2011) Project Management.` The Managerial
Process, 5th edition. Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Matta, F.M & Ashkenas, N.R. (2003, Sept.). Why Good Projects Fail
Anyway. Harvard Business review.
Meredith, J. R., & Mantel, S. J. (2012). Project management: A
managerial approach. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Tonnquist, B. (2009). Project management: A complete guide. Aarhus:

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