Project Failure

Today we are talking about Project Failure.  One of my grad students (Ankita Chaturvedi) pointed out an interesting discussion on project failure by Cornelius Fichtner, I encourage you to check out here.

Generally speaking, any given project can be placed into 1 of 3 categories: 1) Successful, 2) Challenged, or 3) Failed.  Successful projects are described as being completed on time, within budget, and include all of the originally planned features.  On the other hand, challenged projects are in fact operational, but are delivered over budget, behind schedule, and with fewer functionality than was originally planned.  Where as failed projects are those that are cancelled before completion.  While much praise is given to projects that are deemed successful by the above criteria, I feel that some projects are doomed from the onset, and furether more, an effective project manager will cancel (or fail) a project that Is NOT showing promise towards successful completion.  Money saved is just as good as money earned!

So what then, are factors that project managers can use to anticipate a successful project?

The following four success factors account for 60% of a project’s success:

Executive Support 18%

User Involvement 16%

Experienced Project Manager 14%

Clear Business Objectives 12%

I would like to hear your opinion and experience regarding failed projects that you’ve been involved with, and these (or other) success factors that you feel are relevant.  Remember, some projects are doomed to fail from the onset, and successful project managers have the vision to cancel doomed projects as soon as possible.. which in the end prevents the organization from losing valuable assets.

I would love to hear your feedback on future topics you would like me to cover, you can email me at