The causes of poor project success rates are nearly always the same. Project management consultants say that they see similar mistakes being repeated over and over again. They usually are that the standard project management process is not being followed nor met, there are the wrong people working on projects, risks taken have not been predicted, and the list goes on.
The majority of these mistakes come down to poor communication and ineffective project planning. These key parts of successful project management MUST be completed right at the beginning to prepare for the success of a project.
Because project failure can happen in any sector, all project managers should be aware of the risks they are up against. Knowing what to look out for and how to properly prepare puts your project in the right position to reach a successful end result.
Software development projects also have certain characteristics and nuances that play a vital role in the whole project management process. For such projects, the managing team should be aware of certain risks that IT projects are prone to. This is a great way to save time, effort and money from setbacks.
Poor IT requirements are the reason why the majority of IT projects fail. Failed IT projects alone cost the United States $50-$150B in lost revenue and productivity. According to The Standish Group, only 29% of IT projects are successfully completed. It’s critical to ensure that the right requirements are gathered from all key stakeholders and that these requirements are prioritized. The MoSCoW method is commonly used, which stands for must, should, could and would:
It’s important that stakeholders agree to this final requirements prioritization before the project kicks off so the team delivering the project remains laser-focused.
Communication is the key to any successful project management. It applies to software development projects too. Miscommunication can push the whole project back with time and resources being wasted. In the worst case, it can even have a negative effect on the final Return On Investment (ROI) of a project.
Communication between the project team and the client is fundamental. Failure to get the team and the client on the same page at the start of the project can lead to false expectations of the end result, which can lead directly to complete project failure.
The solution is to practice and encourage clear and open communication from the start. Make sure resources on the project are effective at communicating risks, bottlenecks and issues timeously before they risk the entire project. It’s important to set an effective plan in place from the beginning, so there is a clear understanding within the project team, and between the team and the client.
Ensuring the team use an effective online communication tool and a project management platform is another great step to take for more successful teamwork. There are many options to choose from so you can find one that fits your team’s needs the best.
Another potential and common reason for IT project failure is scope creep. If the scope changes or grows over time but doesn’t meet the stakeholders’ expectations, or have the budget to accommodate it, it is considered a failed project.
It is important to be ready for scope creep within project management. Pay extra attention to the analysis of requirements to avoid setbacks later on. Be prepared to react if the project scope changes and ready to respond properly.
It is vital for the project manager to be fully aware of the workload of each team member to prevent overloading some members or certain resources. Putting too much work on your team members can put the project behind in time and quality can suffer. It also breeds exhaustion and creates burnout in the team. A team needs the energy to complete a project.
It’s important to get organized and create a system that shows the visibility of the workload given to each member of the team. It’s a great way to make sure that nobody gets overloaded and to also ensure that tasks are performed in time.
Online project management tools are a great way to get control of that. There are many different ones to choose from that have different details to them. Pick one that fits your team’s and project’s needs the best.
Lack of clarity and mutual understanding of a projects’ objectives is a fatal risk that could sink a project. If a project team and the stakeholders start the project with two different requirements and objectives in mind, this project will never stand a chance.
To prevent this make sure that the initial project scope must include clear project objectives with detailed explanations.
Transparent and comprehensive communication needs to be set in place from the beginning between the project team and stakeholders.
Testing the software is an essential part of every IT project. Many failed projects have had insufficient testing. Many projects minimize testing or forego it altogether because of the time crunch that the project is set to.
Software development needs comprehensive testing to identify bugs and errors that need to be fixed before the final product is presented. Failure to do this puts the whole project at risk.
This can be easily prevented by planning the testing time ahead and making sure it’s one of the priorities of the project. Proper scheduled testing time will help the whole project to succeed.
The project manager is the key player in any project. They are like the conductor of an orchestra.
It is crucial for the project manager to be experienced and skilled for your project.
Many times people with great skills and knowledge in their field are seconded to be the project manager of a project, but without the necessary project management skills, this move can be disastrous.
An incompetent leader can be like the captain of the Titanic - they can guide the whole team to a complete project failure.
Make sure you interview project managers thoroughly to ensure they have the right management skills and previous experience in taking projects to their successful end. Also, ensure that they work well in the culture you are trying to create within the project.
As you can see, it’s not uncommon for IT projects to fail and there are several reasons why it can happen. It’s critical that you keep this in mind right at the beginning of your project to ensure a successful final result.
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