Why Projects Fail and How To Save Them

As an artist, craft maker or designer you might at some point take on a commission, which could involve you working alone or as part of a team. Typical measures for success in any project include; being on time, being on budget and satisfying customer expectations. However many projects fail to achieve all of these measures of success and often they achieve none of them. In most cases, this does not mean that the project will not be delivered, unless things go very badly wrong, but rather that it will not meet the objectives detailed within the initial project plan. This can leave a client unhappy with the work that they have paid for and therefore less likely to become a repeat customer, or recommend you to other people. The individual or team responsible for the work can be left feeling demotivated and with a sense of failure, even though they might believe that they have worked to the full extent of their capabilities. 

Although project failure can be caused by unexpected events including accidents or illness, they generally result from factors such as unrealistic expectations, poor communication and lack of a good project plan. Often there are too many requirements for a project and this leads to time and resources being devoted to things that are not essential. To avoid this situation, an individual or team responsible for a project, should agree with their client which essentials must be delivered, along with any dependencies. There should be a clear understanding of the sequence in which tasks need to be completed, so as to reduce delays and increase efficiency. The available budget, resources and time can then be allocated in such a way that the key elements are delivered and the project completed on schedule.

Addressing the issues that can lead to project failure requires skill and experience. Those carrying out the work must understand the project and what is needed to complete it both on time and to the required standard. Core requirements should be agreed with the client before work begins and progress communicated clearly as required. An experienced professional should have learned how to efficiently prioritise available resources and overcome potential challenges. The various tasks required to complete a project should be broken down into clearly defined stages, with a number of hours allocated to each stage. Although unexpected issues can arise, by having a realistic project plan in place you will be in a better position to allocate time and resources needed to deal with them effectively.

Establishing a good project plan is often easier said than done, as a client might have unrealistic expectations regarding what can be achieved, without an increased budget and additional time. However a professional should have the experience needed to confidently explain to a client what can be achieved within the constraints of a project. Although some people might get work by bidding too little and promising more than they can deliver, this typically leads to delays, missed targets, additional costs and unhappy clients. Sticking to more realistic proposals might lose you some work, but you are more likely to enjoy successful and fulfilling projects. Satisfied clients will be more likely to recommend you to others, enhancing your reputation as a reliable professional, leading to greater long term success.

Posted in Business.