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Top 7 Warning Signs that your Project is Headed for Trouble

Failed projects come at a hefty price. In fact, Harvard Business reports that last year failed IT projects cost the United States between $50-150 billion in lost revenue and productivity. A PwC study analyzed 10,640 projects and found that only 2.5 percent of them completed their projects successfully. It is important to realize that your projects do not need to be a part of these disturbing statistics and that failure is avoidable.

In this article, we will discuss the most common early warning signs that can help forecast if your project is headed in the right direction.

Why Software Projects Fail

As a custom software development company that has rescued hundreds of projects, we’ve found that it is crucial to plan ahead and work out as many details as possible, in advance.

Projects are known to evolve as they progress. So variables like getting your key players and decision-makers on board, setting up realistic milestones, and clearly defining the project’s requirements will all help to achieve a successful outcome.

Watch out for the signs that can predict whether the project is going to head toward success or failure.


7 Indicators Your Project is Headed for Trouble

  1. The Business Needs & Requirements are not Nailed Down.

IAG Consulting conducted a Business Analysis Benchmark survey that reported 74 percent of companies as experiencing a “low level of requirements management maturity”. Not surprising then that the lack of management-set requirements resulted in missed deadlines, budget overruns, and wasted resources. One of the factors that impact the success of any software project is starting with a clear set of requirements.

For example, when the requirements are too vague in the beginning, the project will continue to need revisions and tweaks, which is inefficient and can be very costly. If your internal and external teams do not fully understand how to translate business needs into a functional solution the chances are the project will get snagged and quite possibly come to a halt.

  1. No Clear Plan or Defined Process

When Project Management Institute (PMI) surveyed to determine the most common reasons for project failure they learned that 42 percent reported that the lack of a clear process was one of the contributing factors.

For your project to progress effectively, your business needs to use detailed requirements to develop a plan that outlines all the milestones. It is best to select a team member who will be accountable for following the plan and clearing up roadblocks along the way.


  1. You Don’t Have the Right Team in Place

Depending on the scope of your business’s initiative, you will need the correct team members to accomplish each portion of the plan. Your project may require a Business Analyst, a Project Manager, a Database Developer, Front/Back End Programmers, and Designers.

If you’re missing some key players, you will notice frustration and lack of enthusiasm from your team members which could cause your project to get off track. Recognize that having the right people in place will get the project to the desired end goal. Not all companies can afford to permanently staff each type of tech professional but outsourcing temporary help can make an enormous difference.

  1. Your Current Team Has Hit a Wall

You may hit the ground running at the start of your project only to later discover your current team does not have the technical skill level to complete the project. The skill gap impact on software projects is substantial and can directly increase the overall time and cost while increasing the risk of failure.

If you notice your project slowing down due to a lack of technical expertise, find external professionals that have the knowledge and skills to complete it effectively. It is more efficient and will save time and money.


  1. Project Milestones are Being Missed

Missed deadlines mean there are underlying issues that need to be addressed. If this happens repeatedly, you should see this as a warning sign and will need to find the root problems right away. It could be that your internal team does not have the extra time and energy to devote to the project or if working with an outsourced vendor; it’s possible that they may not be the right team to do the job.

When you take action on the missed milestones, it will uplift the project and the team members and get the project back on track. You may need to change your vendor or lighten the load of the internal team. Doing nothing should not be an option if you want the project to flourish.

  1. Lack of Testing  

Adequate testing is an essential component of all software ventures. Sometimes the tech group is so pleased to finalize the project that they overlook the testing period, which is when glitches are discovered. Launching an application that has not been thoroughly tested can be worse than not finishing the application at all.

If your QA engineers didn’t plan for iterative testing in active development it could create unnecessary duplicate work, which will end up impacting the project timeline. Do not allow essential test steps to be overlooked and missed.


  1. Exceeded Projected Budget 

Harvard Business Review stated that projects, on average, go over budget by 27 percent of their original cost. Many financial issues can impact a project such as not having a detailed estimate in the beginning or if constant revisions are required.

If you see that your project may exceed its original budget, stop, reassess, and have the budget revised to include every aspect that will be needed. You may also want to seek external help, which generally saves more time and money than it costs.

Rescuing your failed project

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to minimize the risk of project failure. Sometimes projects reach a point of no return and they need to be rescued. If all of this sounds too familiar, you’ll want to take a look at our recent webinar: The Rescue and Recovery of a Failing Software Development Project.

In this webinar, we will walk you through a real-life scenario of a failed project along with the essential steps it took to save the project. It will arm you with the essentials that can help you identify the project’s problems and bring it back to life.

Ann Mooney

Director of Business Development

Ann MooneyAnn Mooney is the Director of Business Development at SOLTECH, and has over 30 years in Sales and Account Management in the Technology, Telecommunications, and Medical Industries. Ann’s key specialties are building long-term business relationships, results-driven sales, and account management.

Ann joined SOLTECH in 2016, she works directly with SOLTECH’s clients to help find them the best technology solutions for their business. Ann utilizes her strategic leadership and proactive problem-solving skills to continually grow SOLTECH’s business and ensure excellent customer service.

With her years of experience in the technology industry, Ann likes to share her expertise to educate her audience on the enhancement of workplace productivity and growth through software solutions in her articles. Her insights offer advice on important considerations for creating custom software, including initial steps, development costs, and timelines, as well as the advantages of collaborating with a skilled software development team.

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