Some software projects fail because of unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances. Perhaps funding is lost. Perhaps, despite thorough preliminary research and a well-developed map toward success the goals that a failed project was attempting to achieve were simply infeasible.

Most of the time, however, this is not the case. Most software projects are doomed from the start due to poor planning, faulty execution, or a lack of cooperation. This is unfortunate because it means that many businesses are pouring valuable time and resources into projects that are never going to pan out.

The good news, however, is that the underlying problems that cause inevitable failure are often times easy to spot. Knowing the warnings signs can allow you to correct the course before it’s too late. Here are a few of the tell-tale signs that a project is heading for failure


Incomplete and Ambiguous Requirements.

The Problem: In order for a software project to succeed, the requirements need to be thoughtfully drafted with inputs from a diverse variety of sources from management, to functional owners, to employees, to customers, and, of course, the development team itself.

They must also be carefully presented in a manner that is clear, verifiable and unambiguous. Unclear requirements create a culture of confusion and disagreement that will make successful cooperation and goal-setting nearly impossible. If you see your team struggling to understand and interpret the project requirements in the first days of development, it is safe to assume that the project is headed toward failure.

The Solution: It is imperative to identify at the outset all the stakeholders, who need to be involved as part of requirements gathering. Just as importantly, a special effort must be made to ensure that no requirements are overlooked. Frequently, “hidden requirements” such as mobile compatibility, administrative permissions, security are forgotten simply because business owners do not know what to ask for, and developers do not take the initiative to discuss such issues with their stakeholders. It is also equally important to tap into the techniques such prototyping, storyboarding, use cases, etc. to ensure all the requirements are captured and also validated.


Personnel problems.

The Problem: Only a capable and well-suited team can bring a project to fruition. When companies do not invest in the right employees and/or contractors, its projects will be destined for failure. If you sense that your team lacks the specialty expertise needed to complete a project, communicate!

The Solution: Remember that it is better to invest a small amount of time, energy, and funding adding to or reorganizing your team in the early stages of development than to spend large amounts of time, energy, and money redoing work that has not been completed properly.


Communication Breakdown.

The Problem: Without communication, cooperation cannot exist. If you notice that your team has trouble communicating effectively between themselves or with the stakeholders your project may be in trouble. Remember the example of hidden requirements mentioned earlier in this article: without open communication, such errors are bound to occur.

The Solution: Open communication must be an intra and inter-departmental constant. All members of the development team, for example, must communicate well amongst themselves, and the development team must stay in close contact with stakeholders . A well-defined communication plan is also critical to ensure everyone is aware of their roles and expectations. Over communication generally, doesn’t hurt.


Lack of Prioritization.

The Problem: While it’s easy to recognize failure at the end, it almost always starts at the beginning. Lack of proper planning and prioritization can doom a project from Day 1. Some symptoms of poor planning include production bottlenecks and the inability to move work forward to the next step, communication breakdowns and lack of sufficient resources to get the job done. And, even the best-laid plans can be derailed by urgent or unplanned projects. In fact, the average IT organization spends nearly half of its time on fire drill activities.

The Solution: Map out the entire lifecycle of each project before you get started. Ensure that work priorities align with the company’s overall strategic objectives and that everyone is on board with the expected workflow, timeline and process. Ensure daily or weekly meetings to keep the entire team updated about the status of the project and the immediate priorities to be tackled. An Agile strategy can also help reduce the time required to test and debug in the later stages. Incorporate status updates, reporting, approval processes and communication expectations into the work plan, so there’s no confusion on responsibilities, dependencies and who needs to be involved.


Lack of Preliminary Research.

The Problem: In order for a project to be completed in a timely and thorough manner, costs and scheduling must be researched and estimated before work ever begins. Unfortunately, many companies fail to invest the time and money necessary to complete this important step.

The Solution: Any well-reasoned plan should include development methodology, an engineering approach to formal integration, methods for quality control, and product testing. If a plan lacks these features, it is safe to assume that the plan will either go over budget or fall short of attaining acceptance or both!


Lack of Risk mitigation plan.

The Problem: Development can be very uncertain. There are a large number of variables involved, from the client side, from the developer’s side and the ones inherent to a software development process. In case any of these variables can go wrong, and if there is no risk management plan in action, the software project has very high chances of failure.

The Solution: The project manager needs to analyze and mitigate the risks that can affect the project. Successful execution leads to the success of your project. A properly developed action plan that consists of various steps which are done to ensure the removal of risk form the risk mitigation plan for a project. The risk reduction technique to be used depends on the nature of project risk so the project manager must be very careful in developing an action plan for fighting against risks according to the project design and initial analysis. Risk mitigation can help you:

  • Helps you to avoid any big disaster
  • Enhances your revenues by saving your expenses
  • Ensures the successful completion of project
  • Gives you competitive edge over others
  • Increased sense of responsibility and accountability
  • Helps you to explore new opportunities


Let Pegasus One Help Your Project Reach Success. We offer a wide variety of services aimed at helping small and mid-sized businesses attain their software goals. Visit our website, or get in touch and tell us about your goals!