We all know a project that has been ended before it actually went live or went way over budget. Why is this? So many professionals, so much knowledge and still there are a lot of major projects that don’t seem to be on time, within budget and/or in scope with the right kind of quality. Obviously this can be because of very good reasons out of the control of anyone (name for example nature disasters like the Tsunami). For the “standard” projects there are a couple of reasons why they are failing (in any given order):

  1. Scope freeze;
  2. Unclear requirements;
  3. Late involvement of stakeholders;
  4. Technique more improtant then functionality;
  5. Bad (project) management;
  6. Wrong acquisition.

1. Before development or even design starts, the scope should be “frozen”. Changes should only be allowed if they are a necessity (e.g. because of changed laws during project) and not to change the color of a button. In other words: enforce your release management rules!

2. Requirements that are not SMART enough tend to be interpreted differently or may not even be testable. It is important to get these really clear with the customer and agree on how to verify them. Make sure people work together and communicate. Then you have only misinterpretation which might be the intended interpretation.

3. Users (among other stakeholders) should be involved in the beginning of every project. Not only to manage expectations, but also to see if the demand matches the ideas and requirements. Next to this, the test team should be involved in the early start as well to give another mindset on the project. These stakeholders are often aligned too late in every project resulting in issues that could have been prevented up front.

4. Some projects tend to put new techniques before functionality of a system. These projects focus on so called progress on the latest techniques or own knowledge instead of serving the customer the right functionality for the right price. Because of this, complexity will increase and projects will increase in size (and decrease in scope).
Stakeholders have little feeling with these kind of projects. In other words; keep it as simple as possible with the right kind of functionality.

5. Most obvious reason of failing projects is bad management. This can be from supplier to customer and all other Stakeholders involved in a project. Sometimes projects are like little gardens where everyone delivers perfect work, but they do not talk to each other and just “throw it over the wall”. If no one is there with the overview of the complete project and manages the Gaps and overlaps, the project is doomed to failure.

6. Since there are a lot of parties in the market that want to win a project, sometimes only money is the main driver and not reality. Because of this, customers seem to go for the lowest price, forgetting that the supplier will in that case put his “cheapest” people on it in order to be able to make any profit. This can mean a decrease in quality, not only of the project, but of the product as well. It is better to put 5 expensive senior professionals on a project then 20 cheap Young professionals.