First of all, how do you assess whether a software project (or product) is fundamentally a success or failure? I would say by answering the following questions, one can agree on the product’s end result.

  • Has the product fulfilled the business necessities of the key stakeholders?
  • Were the deliverables produced on timely manner and within the allocated budget?
  • Do the business owners perceive the project to be successful?
  • Has the project delivered the business value promised in the original case for doing it?

Well, if most of your answers to the above questions are negative, then the product can be termed as a failure one. Studies say that the average software project runs 222% late, 189% over budget and delivers only 61% of the specified functions. Further the Standish Group Chaos report 2009 says, only 32% of software projects are successful, 44% challenged (that is cost overruns, budget overruns or content deficiencies) and 24% failed, the highest failure rate in a decade.

Failure has turn into the IT industry norm. So what do you need to do next? A good starting point is by addressing some of the key reasons software projects fail. Let’s do it right away.

Poor Planning during Project commencement:

  • Business objective not clearly defined
  • Lack of time and money given to project
  • Poor communication process
  • Poor estimating
  • Lack of ownership, commitment and accountability

People Management Issues:

  • Inadequate support from senior management or business owners
  • Project team members lack experience and do not have the required skills
  • Team lacks decision making ability
  • Poor collaboration, communication and teamwork
  • Insufficient training and support during key periods

Technical Issues:

  • Wrong or inappropriate technology choices
  • Unfamiliar or changing technologies; lack of required technical skills
  • Unstable hardware or network platform to support the new software
  • Not planning for change or managing out of scope issues
  • Integration problems during implementation
  • Insufficient testing before go-live

Poor Project Management:

  • Project management best practices are not followed
  • Pathetic ongoing management; inadequately trained or inexperienced project managers
  • Insufficient tracking and reporting; not reviewing progress regularly
  • Poor time and cost management
  • Lack of leadership and communication skills
  • Lack of proactive risk management
  • Lack of focus on risks

Next time you run a software project, check out this list and remind yourself to take steps to ensure your success, you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

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