zandax online course logo
Info, Blogs, Contact & Login

5 Tips on How to Avoid Project Failure

From the ZandaX Project Management Blog

Articles to help to manage projects on time and on budget

Home  >  Blogs Home  >  Management Blog  >  Project Management Articles  > 
5 Tips on How to Avoid Project Failure

5 Tips on How to Avoid Project Failure

A post from our Project Management blog

      Written by Jordan James
Consistently delivering projects on time and within budget is the Holy Grail of project management. But whether you are a client or a project manager, you have to admit it, lots of projects fail. Project failure is alarmingly common and, depending on the industry surveyed, only 5%-30% of all projects are successfully completed.

The silver lining in this cloud is that these days, more organizations are embracing failure and using it as a learning tool. And, if we can get to the bottom of why one project failed, we can find ways to avoid subsequent failure, maybe even improve our project performance.

Failing Project
There are as many definitions of project failure as there are of reasons why projects fail. Should project failure be defined by late delivery, poor delivery or no delivery at all? Or are failed projects those that fail to deliver on all three constraints; the agreed quality, schedule and cost?

Yet another definition of failure can be found in the Standish Group's Chaos Manifesto, which says "a failed project is either cancelled before it is finished, or delivered and never used by the recipient."

On the other hand, project failures can be linked to a number of causes, which stem from these four core problems:
  • Poorly defined project scope
  • Poor allocation of project resources
  • Ineffective communication among stakeholders
  • No / poor risk management strategies
Whether the failure is due to cost and time overruns, individual frustration, or change in business environment, we can all agree that the effect on the organization can be costly.

To quote Murphy's Law, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. This is especially true in project management, but by learning what causes projects to fail, we can identify common issues and take steps to prevent them from happening. Use the following guidelines, preferably at the onset of the project, to assess and fortify your project against failure.

1) Set realistic expectations

If you plan to avoid failed projects, make the phrase "a stitch in time saves nine" your new watchword. Setting unrealistic expectations just to please a customer, or so that the project falls within a certain budget, will cause problems when the project kicks off.

You also need to make sure to set realistic expectations for your team by assigning them tasks based on their abilities and skill set. Discuss all potential risks, threats and issues that may arise and develop appropriate contingency plans. You can avoid a black swan project by using the project plan to set quality, cost, and time expectations.

2) Properly initiate the project

Never start a project early just so that you can finish it early. Without proper initiation, rushing to kick off will only backfire on you and your team. Proper project initiation requires discussion, seeking agreement, and documenting the expectations of all the stakeholders.

When key stakeholders know what they are getting (and they agree to it), everyone knows exactly what is expected of them to complete the project. Poor initiation, on the other hand, will lead to rework, errors and omissions unnecessarily extending the project.

3) Check your resources

Do your team members have the expertise required for the project tasks? Starting a project with a team filled with the wrong skill mix or wrong number of people, will only lead to failure. Limited staff and other resource constraints will result in missed milestones and deadlines, throwing any estimated completion date into jeopardy.

To avoid project failure due to lack of resources, make sure to check the availability of the required resources before the project kicks off.

4) Keep clear channels of communication

A breakdown in communications is another common cause of project failure that can be easily avoided. Project managers cannot operate in a vacuum, they need to be accessible to all stakeholders. If your project team members feel they are being ignored, it can lead to resentment and poor performance.

When a project schedule is created, a preferred form of communication should be agreed on by everyone involved, and you need to decide if you want to have check-ins weekly or monthly.

Monthly Meeting

5) Be open to alternative solutions

The point of having a team is to take advantage of a diverse set of skills and experiences. As the project manager, you may think you have the most efficient solutions to any problems that arise, but don't forget to seek input from members of your project team.

Listen to their contribution, discuss viable options and agree on the best solution. Remember that the more invested the stakeholders are, the greater the likelihood of success.

The key to avoiding project failure is to plan well, execute this plan well, and evaluate your actions. Sure, there's Murphy's Law, but the most successful project managers always plan ahead to avoid grappling with vague project scope, resource shortages, and people problems.

How do you prepare for your projects? What signs tip you off that a project is about to fail?

Back to the Project Management blog

Click the button for more Project Management articles.

The ZandaX Leadership & Management blog

Click a panel for great articles on leadership & management

ZandaX Blog Contents

Want to see them all? Click to view a full list of articles in our blogs.

Online courses to boost your skills
Click a button to see more about each course
Personal Development
Microsoft Software
Leadership & Management
ZandaX online training course logo
ZandaX – Change Your Life ... Today
All content © ZandaX 2022
Close menu element
See how you score on a range of skills that are critical to your well-being and performance
Communication Skill test
Communication Skills
How Can You Communicate Better?
Would you like to see what kind of communicator you are? And how you can improve the effectiveness of your communications?
Likeability test
How Much Do People Like You?
Do you sometimes wonder just how likeable you are? And wouldn't you like to see how you can (genuinely) become more likeable?

Time Management test
Time Management
How Can You Make More Use Of Your Time?
Are you frustrated by how easily time slips away? Do you get frustrated when things don't get done just because you run out of time?
Assertiveness test
Are you Passive, Aggressive or Assertive?
Would you like to know where you fall on the behavior spectrum? Does your response to events sometimes surprise you?

Close menu element
Information & Resources
ZandaX information
Read more about us, our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Service
See how we want to help you, and how we make everything easy for everyone
Callback request
ZandaX Blogs
Articles to increase your knowledge and understanding in key areas of your life and career.
Read our blogs on Personal Development, Business Skills and Leadership & Management

Time Management test
Log In
Log in to your online dashboard
View your courses, review what you want and download your workbooks and certificates
Assertiveness test
Contact Us
An easy online form to get in touch
With options for More Information, Customer Service and Feedback

Close menu element
Learn About:
Personal Development
Leadership & Management
Sales & Presentations
Microsoft Office
Microsoft Project
Microsoft Visio

[NOTE: Mouse over the titles above,
then to visit the website pages you want,
click on the links in the right hand panel]
Our courses
We have everything covered: learn all applications at all levels!   All courses are CPD certified.
Microsoft Excel courses
Microsoft Excel 2021 / 365
Introduction to Advanced
Microsoft Excel 2013 / 2016
Introduction to Professional
Microsoft Powerpoint courses
Microsoft Powerpoint Introduction
Microsoft Powerpoint Advanced
Microsoft Word courses
Microsoft Word Introduction
Microsoft Word Intermediate
Microsoft Word Advanced
Microsoft Powerpoint courses
Microsoft Access Introduction
Microsoft Access Intermediate
Microsoft Access Advanced
Microsoft Outlook courses
Microsoft Outlook Essentials
Microsoft Project
Enhance your project management with our two intensive but very easy-to-follow CPD certified Microsoft Project courses.
Microsoft Project courses
Microsoft Project Introduction
Get a solid foundation in Project software to create solid, resilient project plans.
You don't need prior experience with Project: just be able to use a PC with Microsoft Windows.
Microsoft Project Advanced
The Advanced course takes you to a level that will put you in complete control of your projects.
You should, of course, be fully conversant with the skills and concepts taught in the Introduction course.
Microsoft Visio
Become a Visio master with our two intensive but very easy-to-follow CPD certified Microsoft Visio courses.
Microsoft Visio courses
Microsoft Visio Introduction
Get a solid base for using Visio to create high quality, impressive diagrams.
You don't need prior experience with Visio: just be able to use a PC with Microsoft Windows.
Microsoft Visio Advanced
This course will enable you to use Visio to design graphics at the highest level.
You should, of course, be fully conversant with the skills and concepts taught in the Introduction course.
Take a look at our new Marketing section which we begin with two great books on Copywriting
... there will be more to follow, so stay tuned!
Copywriting books
Copywriting for Results
A two-book set that will give you all you need to write great copy every time.
Get the first book to learn the process, then the second to see how to apply it to all media types.
  • Copywriting for Results: Your Complete Guide
  • Copywriting for Results: Putting It Into Action
Watch This Space
We have more in the pipeline so be sure to check back soon to see what's new!
More marketing books
Take a look at our new Leadership & Management section which we begin with a superb course on Managing Teams
... there's lots more to follow, so keep in touch!
Team Leadership courses
Team Leadership & Line Management
For practical advice on managing teams for results.
Make your team successful and more positive with tons of real-world techniques that work.
  • Team Management for Line Managers & Supervisors
  • Building High Performing Teams (in production)
Watch Out For More!
We have more courses in the pipeline so check back soon to see what's new!
More team leader courses
Great, easy-to-follow courses on how to succeed in sales and presentations
Drive Your Sales to New Levels
Selling Skills course
Learn how to sell more, to more people
Deliver Presentations that Get Results
Presentation Skills course
Build and deliver great presentations
Your Keys to Success are here!
Sales Management course
Manage your team for great results
Great, easy-to-follow CPD certified courses on skills that will change your life!
Learn How to Stop Wasting Time!
Time Management course
Get more out of every day of your life ...
Boost Your Self Esteem: Be Assertive
Assertiveness course
Learn how to deal with bad behavior
Great Communications = A Happy Life!
Communication Skills course
Supercharge your communications
Improve Your Relationships
Building Relationships course
Learn how to be more likeable!
Get a Plan to Beat Your Stress
Stress Management course
Learn how to reduce & manage your stress
It's the Behavior, Not the Anger!
Anger Management course
Control anger in yourself and other people
Site Cookies
We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better.

You can change your cookie settings in your browser. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

I'm fine with this