Successful software projects can boost productivity and profitability and enhance our personal and work lives. But regrettably, not all software projects are successful. To ensure that your software investment is successful, it is important to also understand why some projects fail. Let’s look at 6 major reasons software projects fail – and how to avoid them.

Lack of Vision

As stated by Stephen Covey, in his famous book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, it is always important to start with the end in mind. Before a project is started there needs to be a clear understanding of what the final software will look like. Setting clear goals and objectives at the start of any project is a key component of success, such as:

  • Timeline of development through to completion
  • Total project budget
  • How the software will fit within the current business structure
  • How the software will improve performance or productivity.

Lack of Planning

Once you’ve defined your vision, you know where you want to go. You now need a plan to get you there. A few best practices for planning include:

  • Clearly defining your deliverables, to the smallest details
  • Developing detailed schedules showing a start and end date for each task
  • Identifying potential problems and performing risk assessments for each
  • Presenting your plan to stakeholders
  • Understanding the conditions under which you would change course or stop the project

Lack of Scheduling

It is always important to have a clearly defined schedule for a software project, but this is especially critical for complex projects that involve a large team. A proper schedule will help ensure that everyone knows their duties, what tasks must be completed, and by when. A software project schedule should:

  • Define activities and responsibilities
  • Determine dependencies
  • Sequence activities
  • Estimate required resources and timeframes
  • Monitor the progress of the project

Unrealistic Budget

Unfortunately, many software projects fail due to the budget being exhausted prior to completion. This is often due to failing to properly identify a vision, plan, and schedule. Once you have a vision, plan, and schedule in place, ensure that your budget is realistic by reviewing:

  • The scope of your project
  • Your resources
  • The major software features of the project (allocate room in the budget for each)
  • Historical data
  • How you will monitor the budget as the project progresses

Lack of Communication

Lack of communication within a software team or between the team and the client can not only slow a project down but also lead to costly mistakes and inefficiencies. Ways to avoid poor communication include:

  • Utilizing project management best practices to ensure everyone knows their responsibilities
  • Adopting a formal communication plan and schedule
  • Leveraging technology to facilitate workflow and approve work
  • Remembering to celebrate achievements

Substandard Engineers

Not having the right people on the job is another reason why some software projects fail. You should ensure that your project team includes quality assurance people, which could result in significant savings over the term of the project. Investing in a highly skilled software team is also key. By hiring top talent, you will dramatically improve your chance of success.

PHD Solutions – a Proven Plan for Success

At PHD Solutions, we’re cognizant of these potential pitfalls and are committed to addressing them at the outset of each project to avoid failure. Our track record of success is driven by our proven process of Understand, Envision, Build, Launch. Learn more about our process here. If your organization is undertaking a software project, it is critical that you work with a team that understands the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them to ensure project success.