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How to Fail a Project, or What You Shouldn’t Do When Managing Your Project

Mary Lewinson
October 13, 2010

Rules you can follow to avoid failure in your projects


Most people involved in planning and managing projects often do not realize why they fail with their projects because they have no idea of project management failures and common reasons for project failure. Do you want to know why you failed with your last project? In this quick review I will tell you about the most frequent project management failures and also teach you how to fail with a project.

Why do I need to teach you this? The answer is that I believe a person will get more chances to succeed in project management & planning if he or she is aware of what SHOULD NOT be done within projects. I hope that through teaching you to fail projects you will better understand how to achieve project management success and not to do all those wrong things that many project managers and planners do.

First of all, let’s take a look at formal PM failure statistics. Recently in one online newspaper I read about an interesting fact showing that almost every third project initiated has been failed or has not met its original goals. This means that about 33% of all the projects initiated have not been delivered – this failure rate is too high causing too many troubles to business, isn’t it?

It becomes obvious that managers frequently encounter the problem of PM failure. That’s why, it is critical to understand what common reasons of failure are and what actions can be taken to avoid failure in managing projects. So let’s start learning things that you SHOULD NOT do when planning and implementing your projects.

Steps to Failing a Project

Never Create A Project Plan!

Most projects failed because managers did not create sufficient, feasible and realistic project plans. When you do not plan for your next step within a project, you’re likely to fail and become one of those managers who faced project management failures at the very beginning.
Remember that the “number one” reason for PM failures sounds like this: “If you fail to create a detailed project plan, then you plan to fail”. You should note that planning is the strategic activity that reduces the project failure rate and increases the likelihood of successful completion.

Never Establish Communications!

In my PM practice I saw many project management failure examples, and today I can confidently say that some projects have been failed due to poor communications between stakeholders, mainly between the management, customer and the team.
If communication channels are not established properly, team members have to spend too much time and effort on exchanging information with other stakeholders and sharing project data. Poor communications create a bottleneck which causes the lack of information. Project failure statistics make poor communications between people within projects the “number two” reason for PM failures.

Do Not Lead the Team!

Effective leadership turns a group of people into a productive team that follows defined strategies and makes their best to reach assigned goals and objectives. If you do not lead your team, the members will not get required recognition and not be rewarded. Then motivation tends to reduce so the team becomes unproductive. You should do your best to increase team recognition and make every team member feel valued within the team.

Disregard the Customer and Requirements!

Many failures occur when a project hasn’t been implemented according to the customer’s needs and requirements. The simplest way to fail with any project is to disregard requirements and do not follow the project plan.
Also, poor customer involvement often increases the project management failure rate. You should remember that the product of your project will be successfully delivered and approved in case your customer’s requirements have been completely met.

I hope that the listed steps to failing projects will help you understand what you SHOULD NOT do within your project. Good Luck!

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