Why Your Software Development Project Will Fail.

It’s a good question. Why are so many software development projects failing in a time of continual technological advancements and software innovations? The answer is more apparent than you might think. Let’s start with some statistics on projects and project management.

  • On average, less than one-third of all projects are completed successfully on time and budget. (Standish Group)
  • About 75% of all business and IT executives anticipate that their software projects will fail while another 75% of executives believe their projects are “doomed from the start.” (Geneca)
  • 80% of executives report that they spend at least half their allotted time reworking the project. (Geneca)
  • Only 23% of surveyed IT professionals admit that their group is always in agreement of when a project finishes. (Geneca)

With these statistics, and there plenty more not mentioned, it is no wonder that so many software development projects fail. IT professionals typically begin each plan with high expectations for their process, but far too often, they are left with little more than a sense of frustration over a failed project.

What is happening to your software development projects?

First, if you worry about your project failing, you might already set yourself up for a debacle. You should always start a software development project with a positive outlook for the results. That said, you should also understand the reasons why so many projects fail.

software development team image
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The main problem? Lack of communication. You need effective communication to complete a project on time and, hopefully, under budget. Most employees struggle with both internal communication amongst their peers and project team and external communication with management.

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” ~ Peter Drucker

Your employees are working hard but not talking to each other every step of the way. This leads to a project collapse at the end of the deadline, where everyone realizes balls were dropped at the same time. When it comes to management, few executives are transparent about the ongoing development and any problems the team is facing. Without adequate, open, and inclusive communication, your project truly is “doomed from the start.”

communication in software development image
Photo by Kelly Sikkema


Another issue IT professionals face is that there is a persistent lack of transparency. With unclear requirements from the beginning, how can any executive expect their team to develop enterprise software successfully? Before you enter the full swing of the project, make sure that the entire team understands not only the business and end goals of the software development process but their individual goals, too.

“All things are created twice; first mentally; then physically.  The key to creativity is to begin with the end in mind, with a vision and a blue print of the desired result.” ~ Stephen Covey

Every employee involved should have a clear picture of what the team is working toward and what their part is. Any misstep or overlooked detail, no matter the size, can destroy your enterprise software and ruin relations with the client.

Photo by Alvaro Reyes


A third item to look out for is inadequate planning by the project lead or management. A study by Innotas reported that in 2016, 55% of surveyed professionals had a project fail because of poor planning of time, resources, and budget. A significant number of things can go wrong with any project, even when there is a quality plan, but it’s the projects that lack adequate planning that suffer the most from unexpected hiccups.

“If you don’t know where you are going. How can you expect to get there?” ~ Basil S. Walsh

Often, companies don’t realize how long a project will take and do not plan the appropriate length of time. They may also understaff the project, cap the budget at a smaller amount than needed, or need to change the path or scope of the project midway. Poor planning leads to chaos and potentially failure

planning software development blog post image
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Some projects start on the right foot and then quickly nosedive because of bad management practices or involvement. If the project manager is inadequate, does not understand the full scope of the project, is not fully committed, or does not have enough bandwidth, your plan might never make it off the ground.

Without a competent project manager controlling every aspect of planning and implementation, things can quickly go haywire, leaving the entire team bereft of much-needed guidance during a crisis.

“Management is, above all, a practice where art, science, and craft meet.” ~ Henry Mintzberg

What is the key to solving the enterprise software development dilemma?

The four pain points above outline clear ways a project can implode but is it enough to see how things can wrong? Not quite. Before you start anything with your team, you should know how to fix these issues before they’re even a problem on your radar.

Start by focusing on communication skills. Effective communication might be the most significant aspect of developing successful enterprise software. Try instituting a morning meeting every day. Whether it’s the entire project team or smaller groups, make sure that every team member has a voice.

Next, you can shift your attention to the clarity of your communication. In your meetings, go over the end goals and individual goals. Have regular check-ins with the employees to ensure everyone understands what they’re doing both that day and during the full scope of the project.

When you’re planning the enterprise software process, management should pay special attention to the needs of the budget, time frame, staff, and resources. It’s better to over-plan or over-budget these areas than wind up out of time, money, and support without a finished software product.

Finally, choose your project manager wisely. They should understand every aspect of the process, who the key players are, and what needs to be done every step of the way. A well-equipped project manager can see the process through to the end on time and on budget with an excellent product to boot.

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