Causes of Project Failure: Project Management

Working on a project and suddenly found yourself at a loss? Hit a dead end road? Right now you’re probably thinking what’s wrong. And the potential causes of project failure are innumerable.

Are you confused with the roles within the project? Is the planning too complex? Fighting low morale? Running out of time? Cannot manage the team? You name it. There’s an awful lot of things that might have gone wrong.

What is a project’s failure?

When it comes to project development, the biggest concerns usually relate to meeting the deadline, quality requirements, and keeping within the budget.

Nevertheless, it’s more complex as within each of these criterions there’s a great deal of things that can be missed or overlooked.

According to Wallace, Keil, & Rai, risk in IT projects can be classified into three groups:

  • Project – project management risks
  • People – social subsystem risks
  • Product – technical subsystem risks

Today, we’re going to discuss project management risks.

Project Management Risks

Poor management support

It seems to be a frequent problem during project development as employees focus on areas important from the point of view of management. In return, they don’t get the necessary support. A project often happens to fail because of the lack of support from the enterprise and management. Such a project gets caught in politics and priorities. Project managers consider a project unimportant, so they shift their efforts towards projects supported by higher levels of management.

Ineffective project manager

project manager causes of project failure





Some project managers should have never become them, as they have poor communication, organization and leadership skills. A good project manager can easily communicate with each member of the team, can lead the team and execute desired results. Project managers lacking these skills only cause problems as they fail to deliver expected performance.

Poor stakeholders participation

Stakeholders within a given project should support it by delivering resources as it makes the project more successful. And there are always more resources demands than the resources available. Thus, stakeholders that don’t contribute and participate in reviews show little interest and disengage. Soon after, other stakeholders disengage, too.

Overworked subject matter experts

In such a case the success of a project is rather dubious as only SMEs are knowledgeable when it comes to objectives, timing, and processes. SMEs devoting little time to a project is a clear indication that something’s wrong with the project.


overplanning causes of project failure







Too excessive planning leads to complex schedules cause problems later on. Such detailed planning is not the best option for software development, as it consists of many unexpected events. It is the result of cost and employee utilisation tracking. Sometimes at the beginning, a project’s plan is perceived as the most accurate one, even though it’s hardly ever updated. At one hand it gives a nice view to the management. On the other hand, it loses its actual progress and becomes messy and hard to track back.

Low team members commitment

Delivering a product within desired quality, budget and deadline requires a considerable effort. Employees lacking commitment to a given project are less efficient as they always devote more time to activities of their interest.

Another thing – unrealistic expectations. By the way, we’ve discussed it on the occasion of the release of Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2016, check it out!

Unrealistic expectations regarding budget and deadline successfully disengage developers. They are even more demotivated if they work on a project that is uninteresting from a personal point of view. Weak commitment certainly won’t result in a successful project, no matter if it comes to staying within the budget, deadline or quality of the product.

This is where gamification comes particularly useful, especially in the shape of a gamification platform for IT like ours. Playing a game at work increases motivation, engagement, and collaboration. In GetBadges, you can collect XPs, badges and slash monsters with your actions within software development tools, such as GitHub, JIRA, Redmine and others! Going through such a hard project can become easier. Code and play now!


That’s it for now. It’s just a taste of project failure symptoms. The causes of project failure are numerous and depend on management, product and people. Each and every one of them consists of minor issues that put together cause a snowball effect.

Gamification helps you keep the wheels turning. It allows to save time, work efficiently and keep the team motivated. Try it out for free!

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