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Project FAIL: Why the Best of Intentions Mean Jack

Posted by Tim Ballard at July 2nd, 2013

There are several reasons that projects fail, large or small. Nobody starts a project with the intention to fail, but good intentions don't necessarily equate to success. That is why the best of intentions don't mean jack! In software development, the project failure rate is staggeringly high. Why is that? Here are a few of the main reasons why projects fail:

Scope before Code

What will be the determining factors in defining this project a success or failure? This simple question is rarely asked. Define project scope before any work is done. DO NOT start work on any project without having a clear picture of the scope of the project. The scope should be defined in a contract that both parties have signed. Unless the client is paying you to get your hands dirty and determine the scope as you go, key words in that sentence ‘paying you’, don’t work for free. We would never expect something for nothing in any other industry but it happens to agencies all the time.

Analyze Risk

Before you start on a project discuss with the client the major risks involved with said project and what the odds are of them happening and what can be done about to address them if they do happen. No project is without risk and if you think your project is the exception to that rule, you’re fooling yourself. Discuss those risks with the client, be honest with them and be honest with yourself. Murphy’s Law is in full effect in software development projects.

No Budget

When a project is not thoroughly scoped and risk is not taken into consideration before the project is started, how can our estimate be accurate? Be realistic in your project estimations because even though an estimate is just that…an estimate, clients will remember that figure and want the project completed for that price. If the client has feature requests once the project has begun, be sure to address the impact said changes will have on the project budget and completion date.

Like I stated at the beginning of this post, the best of intentions mean jack!  Nobody cares how noble your intentions were if you don't complete your project on time and within your estimated budget. Don't be afraid to talk to your client about project scope, risk and budget. If you bring up those 3 factors to the clients first, you look professional. If you wait until your project has already started to have these discussions you risk appearing unorganized and you will find yourself in a poor spot to negotiate.

These are the most common reasons for project failure. There are several other reasons that I will be touching upon in upcoming blogs.

If you have any questions about your projects past, present, or future email or call me at 866-625-9034 ext. 2002. 

Category: Agile , Project Management