Project Success

Why Projects Fail: Common Pitfalls and Lessons Learned

Jamie Gannaway
Oct 10, 2023
min read


In the world of business and project management, success is the ultimate goal. However, the path to success is often riddled with obstacles and challenges that can lead to project failure. While every project is unique, there are common reasons why projects fail. In this blog post, we will explore these reasons and shed light on the pitfalls that project managers and teams should be aware of to increase their chances of achieving project success.

1. The Uncertainty Factor

One of the primary reasons why projects fail is the presence of many unknowns in project delivery. Predicting the outcome of a project when there are numerous variables and uncertainties involved can be extremely challenging. Projects often start with a clear vision but can quickly derail when unforeseen issues arise. Mitigating this risk requires a comprehensive risk assessment and contingency planning.

2. Lack of Communication

Effective communication is the cornerstone of successful project management. Unfortunately, projects can falter when the reasons for undertaking the project are not adequately communicated to all stakeholders. When there is a disconnect between the project's goals and the team's understanding of them, it can lead to the delivery of outcomes that were never part of the original intention.

3. Projects Stalling in the Pipeline

Projects that linger in the pipeline, waiting for approval or funding, are at risk of failure. Over time, priorities can shift, and people may lose interest or forget about project proposals that are left gathering dust in a drawer. When these projects eventually get the green light, it can be too late to correct course, resulting in suboptimal outcomes.

4. Personnel Turnover and Knowledge Gaps

Team dynamics are crucial to project success. When key team members leave and are replaced by individuals who do not fully grasp the project's original brief, it can lead to confusion, delays, and misaligned efforts. It is essential to maintain a clear understanding of who the key people are that need to stay on the project and ensure continuity.

5. Unclear Scope

A project without a well-defined scope is like a ship without a rudder. Unclear project scope can lead to constant changes, scope creep, and uncertainty, making it challenging to stay on course. Clearly defining the project's scope from the outset and maintaining strict scope control throughout the project is essential.

6. Lack of Continuous Measurement

Projects should be continuously monitored and measured against predefined metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs). Without ongoing evaluation, it is difficult to gauge progress and identify areas that need improvement. Regular assessments can help teams make informed decisions and adjustments as necessary.

7. Quality and Format of Deliverables

The quality and format of project deliverables are critical to success. If project outputs do not meet the required standards or are not of high enough quality, it can undermine the project's overall success. Ensuring that deliverables are consistently reviewed and refined is essential for maintaining quality.


Project management is a complex and multifaceted discipline, and projects often face numerous challenges that can lead to failure. By recognizing the common pitfalls discussed in this blog post and taking proactive steps to address them, project managers and teams can significantly increase their chances of achieving successful project outcomes. Effective communication, clear scope definition, continuous measurement, and a focus on quality are just a few of the key factors that can contribute to project success. It is essential to learn from past mistakes and continuously improve project management practices to ensure a higher rate of project success in the future.

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Work begins before it starts®

Contact the team at Deployed to get more information about learning, automation, or platform demos.

Work begins before
it starts®

Contact the team at Deployed to get more information about learning, automation or pilots.