What Causes Some Projects to Fail?

What Causes Some Projects to Fail?

There are many reasons why projects fail, but there are a few common causes that can lead to the downfall of even the most well-planned endeavor.

In this article, we've explored some of the most common reasons why projects fail, and what you can do to avoid these pitfalls.

By following these tips, you can increase the chances of your project being a success:

Incomplete Requirements

One of the most common reasons for project failure is incomplete or incorrect requirements. All too often, projects are driven by stakeholders who have a high-level vision for the project, but don't have a clear understanding of what needs to be delivered.

As a result, the requirements gathering process is rushed, or skipped altogether, and critical details are left out, and the stakeholders may change their minds later on, which can lead to scope creep and additional costs.

To avoid incomplete requirements, make sure to spend enough time upfront gathering requirements from all stakeholders. Use a variety of techniques, such as interviews, focus groups, and surveys, to get a well-rounded view of what needs to be delivered. And be sure to document the requirements in a clear and concise way that can be easily understood by everyone on the project team.

Lack of Communication

Another common reason for project failure is a lack of communication. This can take many forms, such as a lack of communication between the project manager and stakeholders, a lack of communication between the project team and managers, or a lack of communication between team members.

Effective communication is critical to the success of any project. Without it, team members will be working in silos, and important details will be lost in translation. This can lead to frustration, misaligned expectations, and ultimately, a failed project.

To avoid communication breakdowns, make sure to establish clear channels of communication early on in the project. Hold regular meetings, both in person and virtually, to keep everyone up to date on the latest project developments.

Keep the lines of communication open by encouraging team members to ask questions and voice concerns. And document everything, so there's a written record of what was discussed and agreed upon.

Poorly Defined Roles and Responsibilities

Another common cause of project failure is poorly defined roles and responsibilities. When team members are unclear about their roles and responsibilities, it can lead to confusion and a feeling of being overwhelmed.

This can cause team members to become disengaged, and ultimately, lead to a drop in productivity.

To avoid this, make sure to clearly define roles and responsibilities at the start of the project. Assign specific tasks to specific team members, and make sure everyone understands what is expected of them.

Be sure to document the roles and responsibilities in a central location, such as the project charter or project plan, so everyone can reference it as needed.

Lack of Project Oversight

Another common reason for project failure is a lack of project oversight. This can happen when the project manager is too hands-off, or when there is no clear owner of the project. Without adequate oversight, projects can quickly lose focus and drift off course.

To avoid this, put together a project plan that details the milestones, deliverables, and timelines for the project. And be sure to review the project regularly to ensure that it is on track.

Scope Creep

One of the most common causes of project failure is scope creep. Scope creep happens when the scope of the project starts to balloon, often as a result of changes in the requirements. This can lead to the project taking longer than expected and going over budget.

To avoid scope creep, make sure to establish clear requirements at the outset of the project. document the requirements in a clear and concise way and get sign-off from all stakeholders.

In addition, create a project plan that details the scope of the project, and make sure everyone understands and agrees to it. Finally, be sure to monitor the project closely, and make changes only when necessary.

Lack of Clear Objectives

One of the most common reasons projects fail is due to a lack of clear objectives. No matter how well thought out the project is, the individual pieces may be perfectly executed on time and on budget but then it's impossible or extremely difficult to integrate the pieces.

To avoid this, it is probably a better idea to chunk out the projects to produce measurable results such as described in the "rapid results initiative" where specific quantifiable milestones are set, and once reached can be either built upon or scrapped depending on the goal discovery process.

Without clear objectives, it’s difficult to measure success or failure. Make sure you know what you want to achieve before starting a project.

Lack of Resources

Another common reason projects fail is a lack of resources. Sometimes, projects require more money, manpower, or time than originally anticipated. If this happens, it’s important to re-evaluate the project and determine if it’s still feasible. If not, it’s better to cancel the project than to continue on and fail.

Unrealistic Expectations

One of the most common reasons for project failure is unrealistic expectations. When the goals of a project are set too high, or the timeline is too tight, it can be impossible to meet those expectations.

This can lead to disappointment and frustration from everyone involved in the project and can ultimately lead to its failure.

By setting realistic expectations, communicating clearly, and managing the scope of the project, you can give your project the best chance of success.


Not only do failed projects cost time and money, sometimes amounting to several years, and millions of dollars. It also demoralizes all the stakeholders to the project, especially the frontline employees and managers that had direct reign and input into the project.

It is important to follow these tips in order to increase your chances of being able to complete your project successfully.

Furthermore, an improvement in knowledge of the field of project management is probably the bare minimum to succeeding in this fast-paced business environment.

Votes: 1
E-mail me when people leave their comments –

2023 Copyright PMLink.com. All rights reserved.

You need to be a member of PMLink.com to add comments!

Join PMLink.com


  • Great Article

This reply was deleted.

Latest PM Jobs - Sponsored by SapiensJobs.com

PMLink.com is a 7LinksWeb.com project. You don't have to be big to be noticed.