Why do projects fail and how to avoid the most common mistakes?

Project failure is a real boogeyman for every project manager. And when does a project become an apparent failure? The shortest and most accurate definition would be that it failed because it did not deliver what was required within the agreed-upon budget and time or they don’t meet the ROI target.

However, the last call is always on the stakeholders who decide in the very end whether the project was a success or a failure. That judgment is based on their perception and satisfaction with the final outcome.

Now, let’s talk about the main reason projects fail. Once we sort them, it will be easier to address each obstacle and learn how to avoid it in future projects. For this, all you need is a bit of project management.

  1. Lack of resource planning

We plan absolutely everything. Timelines, meetings, team structure… However, before all that, we should plan resources. And plan them again. And again… In most cases, the lack of resource planning is the main reason for project failure. This happens because plans do not always match the available resources, or there is no contingency plan if resources need to shift to other projects.

Always leave some ‘wiggle room’ for resource change, accounting for potential shortfalls or over-budgeting. Also, at the very beginning, make resources a part of your planning and risk management process – including human resources you might need, as well as software type, facilities available, and any knowledge resources you might require.

  • Not Having Clear Goals and Objectives

Marketing needs, or better said, lack of marketing needs, is another prevalent reason projects fail. Having the right goal is crucial, and it means a lot if your team is aligned around it. Let’s start with the project objectives. What are they? It is very simple; they are the desired results of a project.

When those objectives are unclear, no one can agree on them. It is not just a list. The entire team must know why it matters and what features will help you hit those goals.

You can try setting your objectives to be specific deliverables and assets or something less tangible like ‘improving productivity. Start by defining what you want to achieve. This must be specific, measurable, time-bound, and attainable.

Because how can you know if you succeeded when you are not entirely sure what you’re trying to accomplish? Think about it. Think long and hard so you do not pay the high price afterward.

  • Poor project visibility

You can plan your project to the details, but the lack of visibility will kill it either way. A lack of visibility makes it harder for people to stay on track and know what they need to do. So, it’s vital to have a project management system that gives visibility to the entire team, not just a project manager. The visibility is provided with project transparency of task status, clear communication, and good document management.

How to know if your project has the needed visibility? It’s simple. If your team members keep asking about basic information, there you have it. Your project is jeopardized.

The safest thing to do is to keep all project tasks, files, code repositories, and assets in one central place. So the first thing that comes to our mind is a project management tool. Teodesk maybe?

Just imagine – safe cloud storage, planning, monitoring, budget control, task management, accessible communication… And so much more!

  • Poor Communication 

Ok, this one goes without saying.

Communication is vital, crucial, essential, critical, fundamental, imperative, key… To everything in life, not just for project management. Be serious about it.

  • Scope Creep

Basically, the project scope is everything that you are going to do and, on the other hand, not going to do. So, once you have defined a project plan, you must guard it with your project’s life. Any unplanned changes might kill it.

Ok, you can always issue a new schedule, conduct risk estimation, and budget plan around new objectives as needed. However, there is still a danger of missing your target deliverables, and the scope creep will lead to project failure.

So, do not let your project scope outgrow and your team over-extend. 

  • Unrealistic Expectations

Do not confuse optimism with unrealistic expectations. How? For starters, have a clear picture of what your team can accomplish and in what time frame. Then, align your expectations with reality by monitoring your team as if it were a project. Try the Teodesk feature for employees, and always know your weaknesses and strength.

  • No Risk Management

We all know that every project is different. Some are similar, but they are like fingerprints – unique. This brings a lot of uncertainties. Qualified and quantified uncertainties are called – risks. And a proper risk management can skip a few steps to success.

Start with the basics. Identify risks and decide how to mitigate and avoid those risks during project planning. Then, keep thinking about it every minute of the project, and keep your eyes and senses wide open to catch any hint of threat.

  • Monitoring and Controlling

If you are one of those managers who create a schedule and never or rarely update it – think again about whether you are doing the right thing. If you did not get the hint – you are not doing the right thing, that is for sure.

It would help if you were recording project management actuals, like starting date, work accomplished, and estimate of remaining work. Again, Teodesk can help you entirely with this.


To keep the risk of failure at a minimum, start with a planning process, implement a project management tool for added visibility, and regularly check in with your team.

And, remember – project failure is part of the job!

Sometimes, project failure is out of our control. We can do everything right, and yet, a project can fail. However, if you perceive it as an essential part of learning and growing – you are on the right path. Use failure as a lesson and an opportunity for growth. If you do so and if you apply this experience to your next project, it will boost your chance of success.

Another thing that will bring you closer to the project success and further from risk is a reliable project management tool. There is no time like this to take a look at all Teodesk features. We are sure you will find many solutions for every issue mentioned in this blog. If there is anything left unclear, you can always contact the Teodesk team, who will break it down for you.

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