The Most Common Reasons Why Projects Fail

Adriana Girdler

The top causes of project failure that any project manager must avoid Are you a new project manager about to embark on the adventure of …

The top causes of project failure that any project manager must avoid

Are you a new project manager about to embark on the adventure of managing one of your first projects? Maybe you’ve been a project manager for a while, but you can still remember the sweet old days when you were trying to put on a smile to convince your team you had it under control, when really, you were freaking out a little on the inside! Anyone who has experienced this before, I’m sure, could say that it would’ve been helpful for someone to lay out all potential causes of FAILURE from the get-go and tell them what to AVOID doing as a project manager!

Well, that’s what I’m here to do today – for the new project manager, or any PM who wants a little bit of a refresher.

Now, without further ado, here are the most common reasons why projects fail.

  1. Dodging Conflict Resolution

As a project manager, you MUST address conflict (and I can assure you that conflict WILL come up, so don’t think you can avoid it easily). If you don’t address conflict, it spirals out of control and spirals into NEW conflicts, which will impact your project. And it could impact it on a variety of different levels – scope, timeline, budgets, you name it! Conflict resolution is absolutely key.

  1. Expectations that are vague or unrealistic

As the project manager, not only is it your job to set SPECIFIC, ATTAINABLE expectations for your team and project, but it’s also your job to motivate your team to get their work done by due dates. It is critical that you ensure everybody is on the same page so that there’s no work being missed (or unnecessary work being done – you want to be efficient!) and there are no misunderstandings. Having clear expectations will keep everyone motivated and on track.

  1. Poor Communication

As a project manager, it’s important that you communicate and even over-communicate. Ensure that you’re reinforcing your messages because even if you think you’ve communicated it effectively, once often isn’t enough. Remember that everyone’s minds are in different places because they’re also focused on the individual tasks that they must accomplish. So, this means that you might have to say things several times to truly keep everyone on the same page.

Are those all the reasons why projects fail?

No, of course not! I’ve just created a video that shares with you five reasons projects fail with an additional download that includes TEN reasons. I really recommend you equip yourself with this information, especially if you’re a new project manager. If you’d like to watch the video and find out more reasons that projects fail, along with details of how to avoid those reasons, head over to YouTube and I’ll continue to share with you!

Meanwhile, if you really are committed to mastering your next project, do consider taking my SLAY Project Management online course where I show you step-by-step how to successfully manage a project, plus you get access to every template you will need, along with detailed video instructions on how to fill them out.


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Adriana Girdler is a project manager, productivity specialist, entrepreneur, professional speaker, facilitator, visioning wizard, and author. As President of CornerStone Dynamics, Adriana is one of Canada’s prominent business productivity and project management specialists—helping both individuals and businesses do what they do, only better. She is a certified master black belt lean six sigma with over 20 years’ experience improving how companies work.

She also holds both PMP (project management professional) and CET (certified engineering technologist) designations. She’s a Tedx speaker, as well as a HuffPost and Thrive Global contributor. She has been interviewed on Global, CBC, CTV, CHCH, 680News Radio, Newstalk 1010, Sirius XM and published in the Globe and Mail and numerous industry magazines. WANT ADRIANA'S FREE ONLINE TRAINING? In 45 min, learn Adriana's 5 project management secrets she use on EVERY project. Sign up for the Free Webinar here: THE FAB FIVE FUNDAMENTALS OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT

SLAY Project Management

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5 Sections and 24 step-by-step HOW TO Videos! The only 5-hour on-line course that teaches you the PRACTICAL side of project management. This course will guide you step-by-step on HOW to successfully run a project and provides you with all the templates and tips you need to be successful.

Fab 5 Fundamentals

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Are you striving for successful projects, but get overwhelmed figuring out what elements of project management to focus on for the best results? In the Fab Five Fundamentals of Project Management, you’ll learn the five things you need to do on EVERY project to bring it to success.

Why Projects Fail?

Free Download

If you're new to projects or need a refresher, here's a guide of all the things I learned during my journey. Project success is about knowing how to navigate and stay clear of roadblocks, issues and problems. Understand the top 10 reasons why projects fail and how to avoid them.

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