What causes project managers to fail?

Monday, June 24th, 2013 By Jack Nevison

The business environment is volatile, and projects do not always succeed. Sometimes this is due to poor planning and execution. Other times, market forces are to blame. Either way, it is important to understand why projects fail in order to avoid future failures.

A recent post on Project-Skills.com listed several reasons why projects fail and gave advice on how such flops could be avoided.

Several reasons have to do with logistics. For example, the post cited a lack of adequate resources as one reason for failure. Often, corporations will launch underfunded projects because they are ignorant of the projects' needs, or from a wish to control costs wherever possible. Either way, an under​-resourced project is doomed to fail.

Even when a project has everything it needs, it can still face unrealistic—and conflicting—expectations. Upper management, stakeholders and potential customers can have numerous and competing goals and requirements, which can hamstring a project before it is even launched. As the blog Why Projects Fail pointed out, "Lack of formality in the scope definition process results in vagueness and different people having different understandings of what is in and what is out of scope."

Finally, projects can fail when the people working on them are in conflict, and the project manager in charge lacks basic team-building skills. A dysfunctional team can be caused by something as simple as poorly-defined roles for each member.

New Leaf's two-day program, "Leading the Project Team: the Human Side of Performance,"  shows project managers how to avoid many of these mistakes. As managers achieve their PMP® certification and renew it every three years, they can refresh these critical "people" skills and prevent project failures.

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