IT Project Rescues : Reasons for Project Failures
Project failures are quite common these days and as per statistics only a quarter of the total projects that have been carried out can be deemed as successful. The factors for project failures range from over budget, over schedule to missing features. However, with few quick steps these failing projects can be put back on track.
To salvage a failing project is a herculean task but not at all an impossible one. A well skilled, well-experienced project manager can put together intelligent strategies and expertise to save failing projects. Half the battle is won if he can identify projects that spell doom. Well this is possible if he has an eye for detail to identify factors that cause project failures.
Why Projects Fail?
The factors for project failures are many and the reasons differ from project to project.
Lack of Solid Requirements
Lack of solid requirements is the main cause of project failures. Most project teams show an urge to proceed with the project before they gather requirements completely. However, they fail to surmise the fact that incomplete requirements have a negative impact on the project.
Unmonitored Project Schedules
Projects spiral out of control when dates and deliverables are not monitored on a daily basis. There are times when teams overlook the need of resolving issues immediately. If issues are kept unresolved for days, schedules are bound to go berserk.
Projects go over budget when managers fail to keep the actual budgets in tune with the planned budgets.
Lack of Effective Communication
Problems arise when clients suggest frequent changes to the product at the initial stage or when the project has started. If a manager fails to communicate to the client about the risks involved then he is putting the project at great risk.
Projects are sure to fail if the assessment on cost and schedule is not correct. The manager should consult the experts in the field to come up with good estimates and evaluations.
Many projects fail due to inadequate documentation. Proper documentation helps the team members to verify or to rectify mistakes when the project gets stuck.
Testing and Quality Assurance are very much essential in software development. Testing helps the team to ensure that the product conforms to user requirements while QA testing makes sure that the product excels in quality standards. Therefore, when a project is launched the testing team as well as the QA team must be decided earlier on. However, most project teams do no deem it as necessary, which contributes to project failure.
Salvaging Failing Projects
When a project is in trouble most project managers to do the mistake of working long hours or bringing in more people to try to deliver the product to the client. This is a great blunder since the actual problems for the project failure will not be what it seems to be, the root causes would be something different. Unless and until the main issues are solved working long hours or expanding the team wouldnít bring any results.
The best thing to do in such a juncture is to stop the work and identify the problem areas. You can review the original requirements, the design, programming tools, code etc and make changes, if required.
Then comes the big question that is whether the team should continue with the project or not. Because there are times when even after identifying the problems itís just not possible to continue and the reasons vary from time constraints, budget constraints, project constraints to lack of skilled expertise. In such a situation, it is better to salvage parts of the project if not whole.
Fix a meeting with your clients and have a one-on-one conversation with them to give them a reality check. Tell them specifically about the changes that you suggest in design and features. Do not commit a date but a wide estimate and a timeline.
Go back to the development team to prioritize and estimate remaining tasks. Provide enough buffer time to accommodate last minute changes.
Come up with a more realistic schedule and get it approved by the client. Learn from your past mistakes and ensure not to repeat it since itís seldom that one get second chance.
However not all failing projects can be salvaged. Some need to be cancelled in order to save the company from further doom. But there are cases where new strategies bring in a wave of fresh air. Before you realize, a project that was giving you sleepless nights might turn out to be your most successful so far. What is needed is a lot of patience and hard work.