Why do projects fail? In a multi-industry study of 163 companies, researchers at PM Solutions asked that simple question. Their report identifies five primary causes of project failure:
- Requirements: Unclear, contradictory, and ambiguous
- Resources: Lack of resources, resource conflicts, and turnover of key resources
- Schedules: Too tight and overly optimistic
- Planning: Based on poor data, insufficient details, and bad estimates
- Risks: Unidentified, assumed, or not managed well.
You could look at the list above and conclude that there’s nothing new in this report–and you’d be right. What’s so alarming, though, is that such problems still plague us. This report says that more than a third of company projects are at risk of failing.
But when I look at this list, I see symptoms of project failures, not causes. At the center of any successful project is competent leadership. When you see a failed project, you’re likely to also find poor leadership.
If you perceive one of these seemingly obvious “causes” for failure on a project, you’ll want to look further. The real problem is lurking elsewhere.