Risk Management

5 Early Warning Signs of Project Failure

Every now and then, you will get a bad vibe from a place and decide to get out of there as soon as possible. Unfortunately, there is nowhere to run when you get that same bad vibe from your current project. In an article for CIO magazine, Moira Alexander highlights five signs that a project is headed toward failure:

  1. A change-resistant culture
  2. Sponsors that are unavailable
  3. More questions than answers
  4. Disengaged team members
  5. Lack of confidence in the project manager

Heed the Vibe

If users or stakeholders are not welcoming of the changes that a project will deliver, then they will be resistant to and resentful of sharing important information. The project is handicapped off the bat if no one can convince them that the change is a good thing. Typically, one reason why change is never championed is that the project sponsor did not put in the effort to champion it him or herself. Sponsors are critical to funneling the necessary resources and decision-making power into projects, so if sponsors are regularly absent during the project, this will turn out to be the biggest handicap of all.

A poorly defined project will have more questions than answers, and if these questions are not cleared up quickly, they will only proliferate. A project where everyone has different expectations is impossible to make into a success, because—whose definition of success should be used?

But even in cases where all outside forces are working in the project’s favor, the project can still fail if the team is disengaged or the project manager cannot inspire confidence. About the latter, Alexander writes this:

The reasons [for lacking faith in the project manager] can be many; some may be warranted, while others may not necessarily be substantiated, but the outcome remains the same and can derail a project early on. Early warning signs may include the lack of response by others to a project manager’s written communications, an unwillingness to collaborate, nonverbal signs indicating disrespect, constant challenging of authority, and visible signs of disinterest in participating in the project. Project sponsors and project managers need to work together to identify issues of concern and gain the confidence of all parties at project initiation or risk losing control of the project right from out of the gates.

If any of these signs describe your current project, the time is now to pull over and have a discussion over how to remedy the situation. For additional thoughts, you can view the original article here: https://www.cio.com/article/3256029/project-management/5-early-warning-signs-of-project-failure.html


John Friscia

John Friscia was the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success from 2015 through 2018. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and grew in every possible way in his time there. John graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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