When a project fails, it can jeopardize a company’s entire future. The biggest tragedy about software projects failing is that they are avoidable. So what are the most common factors when they fail? How can we plan to mitigate these risks and avoid our projects failing?

Old Boat

When a project fails, it can jeopardize a company’s entire future. The biggest tragedy about software project's failing is that they are avoidable. Time after time, organizations keep making the same mistakes that drive projects to the ground. The problem is that most of them don’t make preventing failure a priority.

So what are the most common factors when projects fail? How can we plan to mitigate these risks and avoid our projects failing?

Lack of user input

The easiest way to miss your mark in a software project is to get no user feedback throughout the project. Getting input helps your team learn what’s important to the user. What features should be emphasized? Which problems need solving (and which don't)? Where is the software not intuitive?

So how can you mitigate this risk? Easy! Hear what your end user has to say. Conduct usability studies, focus groups and interviews. Find out what’s important to them and what your solution will enable them to do.

Requirements

The most common causes of project failure are incomplete, inaccurate, and unstable requirements. One of the worst things for team morale is requirements that aren’t completely fleshed out. Right next to ones that keep changing.

Because of the nature of software, it’s common for requirements to change. Having a process and plan for these changes will help keep the project on track. Furthermore, keeping requirements as small as possible will allow your team to easily digest them and fully detail them.

Monitoring Project

Common to outsourcing projects, one reason why projects fail is because nobody monitors them. A common mistake in managing an outsourced software project is that no one on the client side manages it at all. Appoint a project manager to work with your internal and outsourced team. The task of the manager is to keep both teams motivated, and remove any roadblocks.

Restarts

One of the major causes of both cost and time overruns is project restarts. Some projects can have several restarts.

Late Delivery

Software projects more than several weeks in length are notoriously difficult to scope.  Perhaps the original budget was inaccurate to begin with. Or it was due to poor planning or it lacked of resources. How will you organize and plan your software project? Who will watch the progress and ensure it stays according to plan?

Over Budget

Software is complex and hard to conceptualize. Because of this, product owners have a hard time thinking through all the use cases. This causes the initial requirements to be incomplete or inaccurate. The downside to lousy requirements is that it leads to more requirements and changes down the line.

A good way to mitigate this is through functional prototyping. Creating a prototype that the users can play with will help them understand how their product will work and what’s missing. Another good way to mitigate this is to release software early and often. This also helps in the same way and allows the user to provide feedback