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Reasons Why Software Development Projects Fail

Despite the fact that failing software development projects are fairly common, they shouldn't intimidate you. When projects are unsuccessful, they are always a feature of the business. This should not make you believe that you are not a decent programmer; rather, you should recognize that you are young and require more time to familiarize yourself with the sector. The best strategy to avoid failing projects, in turn, is to study them from previous efforts. The most effective method to discover from previous blunders is to read books and articles written by accomplished programmers.

Written by
June 15, 2022

Programming is hard. And like any hard thing, it’s going to fail more than it succeeds. The scary thing about failing is that it happens a lot. And it is not just limited to software development projects. Any project that involves people is going to fail at some point.

Why? Because people are fickle creatures. They do not like change, and projects that try to implement big changes in existing processes are going to fail. Even without people, software development projects fail because of various other reasons.

Let’s take a look at the reasons why software development projects fail and figure out ways to avoid them so that your next project goes smoothly.

Lack of planning

You’re probably wondering why we’re starting with a negative. But let me start with a positive.

The lack of planning is one of the reasons why software development projects fail. And the first obvious reason for this is that every project is different. Every organization, team, and client is going to have their own unique requirements for a software product.

So, when you go for a project on your client’s requirement, there’s a very high chance that it isn’t exactly what you’re expected to build. This can lead to two problems. The first is that you will fail to reach the client’s requirements, and the second is that you will fail to meet your own requirements.

To avoid both of these issues, you need to take your client’s requirements and turn them into an executable project plan. And while you’re at it, make sure you include your own requirements as well.

Another reason why projects fail is that they don’t have sufficient planning for scope creep. A scope creep happens when you try to add more features to a product than was initially planned.

And scope creep is a very common reason why software development projects fail.

Different opinions on requirements

This can be a very dangerous reason for failing a project. And the reason for this is that it is often caused by the requirement changes from the client.

And the main reason for a client to change the requirements is their indecision on what they want from the project. And if the project manager is unable to understand and address the client’s indecision, the project is going to fail.

And the best way to address a client’s indecision is to understand it. This is not an easy task, but it is not as difficult as it sounds either. Here’s what you can do to understand your client’s requirement better.

- Exhaust all your channels of communication - Your client may not be aware of all the ways you communicate with them. So, try to communicate with them over the phone, in person, or through email.

- Ask your team members to talk to their contacts on the client’s side - Most of the time your client’s contacts do not know the real requirements of their own company.

- Ask your clients to write down their requirements - Like I said, most of the time your clients are not aware of their own requirements. So, you can’t really make any progress without knowing them.

Delay in starting

Another reason why software development projects fail is delay in starting. And the main reason for delay in starting is that there is a lack of clarity on the owner of the project.

Who is the owner of the project? The project manager is the owner. But who is the project manager? The client is the owner. And who is the client?

The team leader. And who is the team leader? Oh, right, the product owner. And who is the product owner?

You guessed it, the client. So, if you try to start a project with an unclear owner you’re also going to face a delay in starting.

Lack of scope or features consensus

A lack of scope or features consensus is also a common reason for failing a software development project. You’re probably wondering what the scope or features are in a software project and why a consensus is needed for them.

The main reason for a lack of scope or features consensus is that you don’t have a clear understanding of the client’s requirements.

And how can you have a clear understanding of their requirements if your client isn’t clear on their own requirements?

This is why we need to take the client’s requirements and turn them into a project plan. After doing this, we need to discuss the project plan with the whole team to get consensus on the project plan.

Once we have the project plan and the consensus on it, we’re good to go. And the project is no more likely to fail.

Differences in culture

Putting people in a room to try to build a software product together can be challenging. But it can also be very rewarding.

The main challenge that arises when we put people in a room together is communication. People come from different cultures, and the way they communicate with each other is often different from the way we communicate.

And this can lead to a lot of problems in a project. And the biggest problem that arises due to differences in culture is communication breakdown.

When communication breaks down, it can lead to many issues in a project. One such major issue that arises due to differences in culture is scope creep.

A worst-case scenario, scope creep can lead to a project that fails completely. So, to avoid any such issue, it’s very important to make sure that you assign a person from the same cultural background to each project.

Final Words

If your software development projects are failing, you’re not alone. This can be a very scary thing to face, but it is not something that should scare you.

Failing projects are always a part of the business. This does not mean that you are a bad programmer. It just means that you are inexperienced and need more time to learn and understand the industry better.

And the best way to avoid failing projects is to learn from other projects that have failed before. And the best way to learn from other projects that have failed is to read books and blogs written by experienced developers. Click here

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