Understanding the Root Cause of Project Failure - Invensis Learning
Understanding the Root Cause of Project Failure - Invensis Learning

Enterprise companies worldwide face major project failure rates per year, frequently losing millions of dollars per project that did not meet the expected criteria. The same corporations are agonizing about the reasons for project delays, relying on costly experts to analyze and revive abandoned programs, and sometimes dumping what initially seemed to be well-planned, well-organized, success-destined programs. However, we still are fearful of the possibility that it might happen to us as we consider the flip-side, a mistake. 

Project failure appears to be one of the least contested subjects. Who wants to accept their mistake? Definitely not the manager or head of the business. But somewhere the fault exists. Especially when it comes to ill-defined initiatives, we might even say it’s endemic. That is why judging the project at the outset is so critical. Sift through all, road-blocks, hurdles, slopes, detours, potholes, maintenance holes, or even an upset bird flock. Knowing just what is ahead helps project management, staff, and customers minimize potential risks before beginning the project.

Why Projects Fail

In any organization and any project, project failure will happen. There’s a variety of explanations for the failure. Often it is beyond the reach of a project manager and members of the team. Failure is also controllable. Any aspects have in common with abandoned projects and the people involved in the loss. In both cases, prescriptions are issued for “fast fixes” that usually prove unsuccessful and can often cause catastrophic side effects. 

We’ll discuss 7 root causes of project delay/failure in this blog. Knowing these will help you train for your next role as a PM and help avoid costly mistakes:

1. Poor Arrangement

If you have a sound vision of what you’re planning to do, it will help in advance as far as possible. Otherwise, without a paddle, you might catch yourself swimming away. At the start, you need to understand what project success looks like, don’t lose concentration. Therefore, if you don’t have a good vision at the initial point of the process, you risk making it more challenging for yourself. Have a meeting with stakeholders, even if it is long, to address their views on cost, time, and consistency. Know how you can conduct your duties and fulfill the needs of all of you.

2. Lack of Effective Communication

90% of the project involves communicating with team members, stakeholders, and customers. So, effective communication is a key trait for project managers. If the information does not flow effectively across all management levels, this will lead to unforeseen outcomes. Everyone has to be on the corresponding side, from the staff to senior management and consumers, and everybody should feel relaxed with voicing feedback or voicing concerns. Effective communication would ensure the efficiency and proper function of the team in a business-critical project.

3. Poor Documentation and Tracking

That is the project manager’s responsibility. Watching milestones is how you’ll know if you’re achieving standards. Proper tracking and reporting help the PM to determine that it needs additional money to finish a project on schedule.

4. Overcoming Fear 

Fear makes members of the team feel the need to defend their rights. We aren’t going to be transparent while we feel the need to hide. Therefore, it would stifle the conversation. 

Worse still, our conversation may be a debate about whether we are right and why others are wrong. The consequence is letter writing on the positions and being unable to solve even fundamental problems.

But still, chat about what’s right, bring solutions on the table if you see the tension on your project erupting. Then, as a project manager concentrate fixing the problems that are causing fear among team members due to various circumstances.

5. A Dearth of Trained Professionals

One of the important reasons a project struggles is that the project manager or team members lack the necessary training in project management best practices. Many people fall into the role of a project manager; this is not something that they specifically embarked on at the outset of their career. There are also many people who feel that being able to handle a project is an ability you either possess or don’t. Regardless of how much of a strong leader you are, the right preparation is essential to provide successful project management skills, just as it is in almost any profession.

6. Inexperienced Project Managers

There is a lot of pressure on a project manager. You have to appoint individuals to positions in management that balance knowledge and experience. In certain situations, and maybe more frequently than not, the assignments are handled be newcomers. They may handle tasks very well, but the trick is to keep them at a stage where they can be successful. If not, you’re setting them up for disappointment. 

7. Overlooking Project Warning Symbols

Last but not the least, if you ignore all of the early signals that your project is deviating from its original scope, then you’re pretty much sure to face more significant issues later on. For instance, if you feel you having a budget overrun, you shouldn’t just expect that the problem will go away. Alternatively, you need to bring a schedule into motion to speed up some processes, or you need to speak to the partners to handle additional work and, if possible, push back the timeline with any new requirements or changes to the project scope.


Knowing the root causes of your proejct failure from the beginning will significantly increase your potential for success. The easiest way to discover if your project is heading towards failure, is by analyzing the root causes in a holistica manner. Executing a monthly assessment of how well the team is fulfilling the project requirements gives you an overall idea of what is happening in your project.

To better understand how to identify the root cause for failure and be prepared to prevent or tackle it, it would be beneficial to be trained and certified in popular Quality Management and Project Management certification courses.

Some of the popular certification courses that project managers and team members can take up are:

PMP Exam Prep Training

PRINCE2 Certification Training

Change Management Foundation Certification Training

Business Analysis Foundation Certification Training

Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification Training

RCA through Six Sigma Training

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Lucy Brown
Lucy Brown has many years of experience in the project management domain and has helped many organizations across the Asia Pacific region. Her excellent coordinating capabilities, both inside and outside the organization, ensures that all projects are completed on time, adhering to clients' requirements. She possesses extensive expertise in developing project scope, objectives, and coordinating efforts with other teams in completing a project. As a project management practitioner, she also possesses domain proficiency in Project Management best practices in PMP and Change Management. Lucy is involved in creating a robust project plan and keep tabs on the project throughout its lifecycle. She provides unmatched value and customized services to clients and has helped them to achieve tremendous ROI.


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