Project Management

What Factors Lead to Software Projects Failure?

07 Dec 2018
Read Time : 6 min

According to an independent IT consultancy firm 6point6 report, UK is estimated to waste £37 billion on failed Agile IT projects.

The survey was conducted across CIO’s in UK and US. You will be amazed to know that these estimates cover project failure with Agile methodology. Imagine the situation for other conventional methods I have seen pundits taking side of modern development standards.

That is fine, but despite so much hype, why is your team struggling to mitigate risks associated with software project  delivery.

I am listing some of the reasons that can be impacting your bottom line performance.

Poor Articulation of Final Outcome

If you fail to articulate the desired outcome, results will be disastrous. One of my friends, Kevin was given a task to develop a travel application.

The client shared a brief documentation. Kevin read the spec, but did not clear the doubts of the end goal. There were communication gaps. Client assumed work will be done, Kevin assumed it is a cakewalk (rich experience).

Client wanted a mobile responsive version for the travel website. Kevin developed a mobile app that was not needed. Whose fault was it? Do you reconfirm with clients about the outcome or assume? Such measures clear confusions and avoid mistakes in long run.

A simple 1 week translated to a 3 week full project. It can happen with your clients and damage your reputation. I have seen both parties assume lot of things.

If you are a service provider, you should ask open ended questions and have multiple discussions before the project work starts.

You should not be in haste when working the clients. Changes often occur in the first week or a month. So if you clear your stance on your role and deliverables, wastage can be duly checked.

Accepting Unrealistic Project Schedule

Is your IT manager or CTO  over optimistic or boast about their latest blockchain delivery? Think again. It can cause chaos within your organization.

Accepting schedules that will push your team can lead to errors. Did you try answering these questions.

  1. Is the requirement meeting my present capability?
  2. Should I clearly answer my client on my understanding?
  3. If we say no, will they look for another service vendor?

I have seen fear to lose clients and focus on revenues lead to such outcomes. I read a story about an Insane decision to develop an ecommerce portal in 2 weeks caused a firm in Germany to pay heavy fines for non deliverable.

The project that was estimated for 6 weeks during the initial proposal. When you have an overzealous schedule, you will be forced to overstaffed the project. Overstaffing increases the project cost; leads to miscommunication and below par results.

Underestimating Complexity and Effort

Poor estimation techniques is another cause for failure in software development work. Unskilled project managers take no interest in minute details and ask senior developers to work on it.

When your project manager is occupied or “busy”, how will your delivery be easy?

In my experience, when the stakes are high, individuals feel that winning software project becomes critical to his/her career.

They often ignore facts, risks and statistics. Impressing the client with low numbers and effort becomes the order of the day. Such approach will cause more damage to your organization.

You need to impart the knowledge to subordinates for maximum results. Understanding complexity requires brainstorming and estimating becomes the most important aspect for winning proposals.

I have seen teams have a carefree attitude on estimating and often fail to measure it accurately.. You are aware that changes in product development is natural.

Your team should be flexible and adapt to situations. Effective utilization of modern tools in project estimation/management can bridge a long gap.

Imperfect Procurement

Have you taken up a project that is not your core skill? Have you [selected a software development company] who is unable to comprehend the project? These are some hard hitting questions that often scare your inner self.

You need to choose the right project or vendor that best suits your ability or understands your concern.

I remember Dave, who runs a great WordPress agency took up a large SaaS Application proposal (lucrative offer). The requirement was for a senior Java consultant who has developed rich SaaS Applications.

His team overcommitted on the resource expertise and the project failed. Both parties went to conflicts and the product never saw the daylight.

Lesson:  Never chase glory or eat unhealthy product.

Dismal Resource Management

In one of my previous companies, a junior web developer was asked to work on a complex web crawling application. With little guidance and expertise, he was left running here and there. I am not undermining the developer credentials.

We all need time and guidance to grow in life and career. If you allocate your resource to client without understanding the needs, it will hurt you.

After the complaint from the client, the team decided to add a senior resource to a delayed project. Now, the senior developer  may have been pulled out of a project and added to the current project.

This puts other project further behind schedule.

Similarly, the new resource replacing the senior developer needs domain knowledge and time to get up to speed. This decreases productivity across the board.

Poor resource management techniques can dent your business and you will most often fail to deliver.

No Transparency in Project Management

Your project will never be in control if there are constant changes in planning and execution stage. I have seen confusion between delivery managers, tech leads and engineers become a daily routine.

Teams seek clarity and accountability.. Instead of working together, they work in isolation and create an atmosphere of negativity and one-upmanship.

Success of your project depends on the initiation or feasibility study report. Projects are started without a well written plan that states resources, time frame and milestones.

Without giving your team a direction to produce quality product, how can you accept things at face value?

Project execution depends on how well you have structured the planning phase. In this phase, managers allocate resources and align them to specific goals.

If the structure is weak, your decision making will be ineffective.

I have listed reasons based on my experience. There can be other points that have equal weightage, but not covered. Some of the points shared may have been your life story.

The objective is to mitigate the factors that lead to failure in software projects. Clear defined process and realistic expectations is the way to open the gate and win clients.

Invimatic Solutions is a software development outsourcing company based in Pune, India. If any of your projects are not meeting deadlines, let us have a discussion. When you share your situation, you will get answers.

  • By The Invimatic Editorial Team
  • 07 December, 2018
  • Categories: Project Management