Seven Early Signs of Project Failure

Seven Early Signs of Project Failure

Seven Early Signs of Project Failure

In the field of project management, changing dynamics and uncertainties always pose a risk. If you want to step up your game as a project manager, you can learn through various resources how to successfully run a project. However, it is equally important to know the causes of project failure so that you are able to turnaround the situation in the nick of time. If you are aware of the warning signs, then you can make appropriate changes to achieve the desired outcome.

The following are seven early signs pointing that your project is headed towards failure.

1. Undefined or poorly defined project objectives and requirements:-

Project managers must collaborate with project stakeholders to clearly define the project requirements and deliverables. Defining project objectives and requirements is essential in order to define the project scope. If the project scope changes frequently, then it negatively impacts the schedule, budget and resources of the project. This can cause project delays and eventually failure, if not tackled in the early stages.

2.  Lack of adequate project planning:-

Once the project manager has defined the project scope, project planning is the next step to jumpstart the project. You must understand that there may be more than one way to achieve the project requirements and that scope and cost vary based on the project management approach. Therefore, the project manager must develop a scope management process to frame clear and concise project scope statements and reasonable budget and schedule estimates.

3. Lack of change management process:-

Due to unforeseen and uncontrollable reasons, project changes are bound to occur. However, lack of suitable change management process will increase the chances of project failure. A strict change management process needs to be incorporated so that the effects of changing project requirements are duly analyzed, prioritized and adjusted as per the scope, budget and schedule of the project.

4. Lack of stakeholder involvement:-

Project managers must engage the key project stakeholders and seek their involvement since the beginning and throughout the entire project. This will ensure that project requirements are clearly defined and communicated to the project team. Lack of stakeholder involvement results in tasks and deliverables not meeting expectations; thereby causing project delays and failure.

5. Bad timing:-

Bad timing means that it may not be the right time to do a project. The reasons for it may be many- either the organization does not have an appetite for it or the end users aren’t ready for a change or the market is unfavorable. If the timing or the environment isn’t right, then the project is bound to fail.

6. Power struggle and personal agendas:-

Power struggle between the project team members can be destructive and negatively impact the project. A power struggle can fuel inter-personal conflicts and dilutes the focus towards achieving the desired outcome. Also, some people may enter a project with personal agendas to use it as a platform to attain personal gains. The project manager has to ensure that the project team concentrates on organizational objectives rather than their personal agenda.

7. Inadequate Documentation and Tracking:-

Lack of documentation or proper tracking of milestones will add to the confusion. It is important that the project manager maintains proper records and monitors the tasks and deliverables at regular intervals. This will help him to identify the areas where more resources are needed to complete the project on time.


These early signs of project failure need to be taken seriously so that the management takes timely action. By simply stopping or restarting the project at an earlier stage will help avoid huge losses or project failure. There are many other reasons which can lead to project failure such as insufficient resources, unrealistic expectations & deadlines, lack of proper communication, inefficient project team, absence of motivation and unhealthy client/vendor relationships.

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Also ReadHow to Define the Project Scope?

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How to Define Project Scope?


Project Risk Management: The Four Stages of Project Risk Removal


  1. Salvador Flores

    Let me know how can set the scope

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