The facts about project failure
AXELOS’ Benchmark Study shows that project managers have an ethos of skills development and are trying to get better at what they do in order to succeed.
However, the spectre of project failure is ever-present. That includes the less common scenarios where projects are cancelled or incomplete along with the more common examples where failure is defined by stakeholder dissatisfaction with the project results.
The primary reasons project managers cite for project failure are all plausible: insufficient time for delivery, changes to the project brief, misunderstood risks and having the wrong people on the team. That said, I think there’s a bigger, underlying cause of these symptoms: starting projects.
When under time pressure, the start of a project is a typical place to make time savings. It might feel like a good idea at the time but that runs the risk of finding out within a few weeks that you’re going in the wrong direction.
The project start is where you define success and set up the environment which leads towards the right support mechanisms, resources, assessment of threats and appropriate governance.
The goal of a project manager is to succeed through clarity of purpose; knowing where you’re going and managing to that idea. This deliberate approach is less likely to generate the type of failure also known as stakeholder dissatisfaction.