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5 Early Warning Signs of Project Failure

Recognising when things are starting to go in the negative direction in the earliest moment is what separates a good Project Manager from a great one. The sharp eye you need to recognise a bad egg within your project comes with an experience truly but, there are a whole bunch of warning signs you can look out for.

According to IBM, only 40% of IT projects meet schedule, quality, and daily goals, which is less than half. The mistake you can make when starting a project is to assume that everything will be okay from the beginning to the end.

What is Project Failure?

Project failure is the inability to meet any of the agreed-upon conditions. It’s a huge part of a business, especially in the tech world. It’s however, important to note that 'failure' isn’t always a bad thing, rather it is an original part of experimenting with innovative ideas. In actual fact, some leaders view failure as the key to success at work.

There’s a huge difference in healthy failure that contributes to strategic development and the type of failure that pulls down morale, budgets, and organisational goals. Nonetheless, the type of failure we are discussing in this article is the type of failure that happens when critical problems begin to emerge in our projects, creeping under the radar, and creating faults that cause your teams to under-perform or cause your costs to overrun.

The ability to uncover these early warning signs of project failure is one of the most essential project management skills and one of the most challenging areas to master.

Listed below are 5 early warning signs of project failure to keep an eye out for:

1. There are no warning signs

If you feel that your project is risk-free, then you are on the path of project failure. You have to make a proper analysis of your contingencies, dependencies, and risks. Risks during the execution of a project come in different forms. It may be that something goes overtime, or above budget.

Aside from that, your clients may take longer than expected to offer approvals which will result in a fresh change of time. If you are thinking along believing that everything will probably go according to plan, which is your first warning sign that your risks are not in check. Your project could be a failure in the absence of a contingency plan that will permit you to accommodate changes and pivot strategically when you hit blockers.

The solution is to create a project plan by utilising tools meant for resource scheduling.

2. Poor Communication

It’s generally known that good communication is an important ingredient in a project’s success. In a situation where the communication among team members is poor, it’s a precursor to failure.

Silence can be a sign that all’s well but it can also be an indicator of a more critical problem in your projects. For instance, it can indicate that a member of your team is avoiding having a chat about a mistake that they’ve made. This can prevent progress and essential changes from being communicated vividly to other personnel who depend on their work.

The solution to this is that you should find a communication tool for your project teams. Tools such as LaevoIGNITE can be utilised.

3. Processes Are Regularly Getting Thrown Out the Window

Your process might be cumbersome and abstract, but your process is the important current that guides your project from the beginning to the end. The moment you are tempted to throw those processes out of the window for a new trend, that’s the early warning sign of a project failure.

The solution is to study your existing processes whether they are well defined or not. You can make use of templates and automated functions in management tools to develop your processes.

4. Everything is Urgent

Do you quickly switch from one task to another every time? This is a big problem for your project. You have to set priorities for your tasks for the important things to take precedence. The moment the important things are neglected, your project will be a failure.

You have to be able to tell the difference between an urgent and important task for the success of your project.

The solution is for you to set priorities.

5. You’re Driving without a Map

It will be pretty difficult to succeed in your project if you are driving without a map. It’s important to properly define your project before starting. In the absence of such, there will be confusion and inefficiency regarding the functions of stakeholders, clients, and various team members. Even if you have the required tools, team, and methods.

The solution is to take advantage of all the conventions available for defining and managing projects properly.


From the aforementioned, it’s important that project managers are observant, and watch out for the early warning signs of project failure. By watching out, the solution to the signs will be timely.

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