Why Projects Fail

Estimated reading time: 1 mins

Projects fail when the reason why the project is being done isn’t clear, or is a good one.

Projects fail because when we hope that what it will deliver will be good. Fingers-crossed, yes?

We need to know what a project will deliver before we start it. Before resources are mobilized. Before budgets are agreed. Before champagne corks are popped.

This is known as a Business Case.

When we don’t have a Business Case, or when the Business Case doesn’t prove that the project will deliver the desired outcome, we start the project with a great deal of risk.

And if the risks aren’t clear, or if your project sponsors don’t care about them, then the issues will ensue. Because when a project doesn’t have a business case, the people participating in the project won’t know why they’re working, or what they’re working towards, so they will make up their own reasons. Here come the issues.

What happens is that those people will be working to their own agendas and there will be little alignment. Chaos, divergence, and infighting will be inevitable. Ultimately, your project will fail.

So if you’re involved in a project – any project – then ask yourself this: why am I doing this? What is the Business Case?

If you don’t know, then ask your manager. Chances are, they don’t know too.

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3 thoughts on “Why Projects Fail”

  1. Thanks Hassan. Yeah it should be clear to everyone! Especially the ‘workers’!

    Example: if we were just told to stack some bricks on top of each other in the sweltering heat, perhaps our motivation and performance wouldn’t be good. But if we were told that we’re building a hospital, then our motivation and performance would be different…

  2. Agree with you, Simon…
    If there’s no exact and clear idea of why launch a new project, this project is likely to fail… And a business case is what every project manager really needs in order to highlight and prove the need for the project…

    Another general reason of project failure is lack of good planning.
    While a business case says why start a project, a project plan says how to deliver a project. When there is no good plan, any project is doomed to fail, or at least finish with no results expected.

    Regards, Dmitry MyMG.

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