IT professionals, project managers and software developers accept that failure is a natural part of innovation. In fact, a survey published a couple years ago by Geneca found that 75% of software projects will fail. That’s a high number!
While accepting failure is a natural part of a successful IT organization’s culture, leaders also have to be aware that some failure is preventable and comes with high costs. This is one reason they hire IT contractors — experts in their field that should minimize the risk on a project. As great as that is for your ability to hike your rate a bit, it also puts more pressure on you.
Thomas Smale, founder of FE International, recently published an article for Entrepreneur that discusses 6 common reasons a software project fails. Have a look to see if there are any ideas you can bring back to your client next time you’re called in to help make a project successful:
- Insufficient time to complete the project
This is usually caused by companies having unrealistic and arbitrary deadlines because they’re in a rush to get the project completed. It is suggested to do enough planning upfront that will give developers all of the scope and parameters to work most efficiently.
- Inadequate planning
Speaking of planning, that’s the second overall reason projects fail according to Smale. Lack of time, staff, resources and budget all can cause things to go wrong. He recommends senior management stay involved from start to finish so if inevitable change happens during the project, sign-off is quick, informed, and easy.
- Unclear project requirements
Again, planning becomes a keyword, but this time, enough upfront conversation among all users so developers have a clear understanding about what they need to do.
- Too many people assigned to the project
Logically, more help should speed things up, but Smale cautions that it can result in failure. On top of higher costs, there are more opportunities for misunderstandings, unclear communications, or inconsistent code.
- Lack of testing
As time starts to slip (usually due to lack of planning), testing can be the first casualty, resulting in broken features, crashes or security breaches. It is instead suggested to test each component as it is completed throughout the entire development lifecycle.
- Failure to find a good project manager
If you’re Project Manager, you have probably have experience entering into a broken project. This may be due to an incompetent consultant or because the company assigned the task to an internal person without the experience. It’s important to recognize the early signs of poor project management so it can be rectified before the project goes completely sideways.
As you read through the 6 points above, it should come as no surprise to you that failure to plan is a root cause of many software project disasters. Therefore, understanding a client’s plan (or if they have one at all) is always encouraged before a project begins and a quality question to ask your recruiter. What kind of software project failures have you seen?