Why Projects/Programs Fail

In the environment of competition and growth it is critical to have a well-defined strategy and an effective means to implement that strategy. Many organizations fail to deliver the strategic goals due a lack of Program Management function or an effective Program Management Office (PMO). In a setting where many programs fail, an effective PMO can be a competitive advantage. PMOs can be leveraged to prioritize, manage and implement strategy, portfolios, programs, projects, services, organizational changes, processes, and release management. In this SDLC Point of View (POV), we will discuss reasons why programs/projects fail and provide our point of view on best practices that contribute towards a successful PMO.

7 themes are common across projects/program failures

Based on the collective experience of SDLC, the following 7 themes are common across projects/program failures both from an IT and strategic perspective.

  • Scope not clearly established – Changing or ambiguous requirements can destine a project for failure before it starts.
  • Lack of clear sponsorship & participation – Uncertainty of sponsorship and lack of participation directly impacts in achieving the desired targets, leading to scope, schedule and budget variations.
  • Lack of experience within team –Capabilities must match duties to ensure the project can be successfully completed.
  • Mismanagement and lack of visibility of resources – Lack of communication and management of priorities across the organization can lead to resourcing to deliver the highest value initiatives.
  • Perceived value diminishes – Uncertainty relating to the value of the initiative leads to demotivation and a reduction in priority.
  • Clear milestones not established and measured – Achievable and measurable milestones are essential to determine and track progress.
  • Overall risks not accurately assessed – Careful consideration and identification of internal and external risks must be taken to minimize threat of failure.

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