Decisive Factors for Project Success or Failure

My client asked me today for a précis of what the decisive factors are for success and failure in projects.

Given more thought there will be many factors, but these were the ones that sprang to mind:

Incomplete requirements (resultant specifications)
Changing requirements
Lack of business/user involvement
Lack of resources
Unrealistic expectations
Lack of executive ownership/support
Lack of proper planning
Lack of effective project management
Poor leadership

Clear statement of requirements
Proactive and effective business/user involvement
Effective executive ownership and support
Proper planning
Effective project management
Realistic expectations (for benefits, deliverables and timescales)

As you can see, there is a correlation between success and failure factors. A deficiency in one success factor may end up causing the project to fail.

Generally it is the combinations of one or more that impact the project. A deficiency in one factor alone might not make the project fail (it depends on the severity of the case), but combine this with other factors and you could see the project doomed to failure.

The challenge is the right balance, because it is virtually impossible to satisfy all of them, all of the time. This is especially prevalent as projects become more complex.

These certainly resonated with my Client, he had numerous examples of all the failure factors. Though he did have an interesting one to add, which he thought unique to his sector, “balancing stakeholder needs”. He viewed this as the effect of politics on project success. But stakeholder needs are much more diverse. I’ll address this in a later blog post.

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