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Q. Why Projects Fail Due To Four Common Causes

  • 1.  Q. Why Projects Fail Due To Four Common Causes

    Posted 04-29-2021 03:36 PM

    In my experience, four causes for project failure are: 


    ROLE AMBIGUITY……………………____
    Lack of PROBLEM VALIDATION. . . . _____
    Lack of PROCESS VERIFICATION. …- ____
    ABSENCE OF A VISIBLE PROACTIVE
    CONFLICT PROCESS. . . . . . . . . . . ________

                                                                  100%

    Q
    . In your specific project experiences what percentage of each of the four (4) attributes above would you assign, such that the total per project always adds up to 100% of its "Common Causes?"

    Stay Healthy!
    Cheers,
    Bill



    ------------------------------
    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Q. Why Projects Fail Due To Four Common Causes

    Posted 05-02-2021 11:39 AM

    I think understanding and learning from project failures  is an important topic for all engineers and fundamental for professional growth. However, I don't think this is topic that can put in a simple box.

    By way of grounding, I see project failure as not being able to deliver on or meet promises. These could be cost, schedule, or functionality or some combination. I'm using functionality here as a catch all for solving the right problem and providing a solution that meets the requisite level of serviceability, reliability, longevity and public acceptance.  

    From my own experience and  as a student of  this topic I can muster up a list of frequently occurring themes of causality leading to project failure. But,  I also see a dependency between these themes and their relative importance on project characteristics and setting. For me, these factors include project type and scope, technical complexity and novelty, commercial setting, non-technical issues,  and actors (catch all for owner, stakeholders including general public, designers, contractors, etc.). Therefore my earlier comment about being careful to over simplify.

    The professional, academic and grey literature is replete with information on project failures and causality. I think this is where engineering professionals need to go to learn. Sadly, from my own experience, there's a reluctance to learn and or the desire to get something done takes precedent over the fundamentals of seeking out experience and learning from others.

    I also think the connection can be made between themes of causality behind project failures and cognitive biases and heuristics. Examples of cognitive biases and heuristics that I think are common in the engineering world  include over confidence, confirmation and anchoring. The Dunning–Kruger effect is also important in explaining behaviors and outcomes. I think awareness of the role cognitive biases and heuristics play in determining outcomes is equally important as learning from experience.



    ------------------------------
    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Q. Why Projects Fail Due To Four Common Causes

    Posted 05-03-2021 01:00 PM
    Hi Mitch, thanks for your usual insightful comments and analysis.

    If you would then, please add your additional causes for project failure to the list, and then for that new list, estimate their frequency of occurrence.

    No doubt that we will get to linking causes to the restraining forces that allow their common occurrence.

    Cheers,
    Bill

    ------------------------------
    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Q. Why Projects Fail Due To Four Common Causes

    Posted 05-03-2021 09:02 AM
    In my experience, the major and common reason for project failures are

    1) Lack of competent staff preparing the project specification, resulting in the unclear scope for contractors.
    2) Poorly calculated budget for the project. maybe without considering the contingencies/calamities / other unexpected conditions.
    3) Unexperienced / less experienced Project Managers deputed for the projects with authorities.
    4) Un-wanted interferences by internal stakeholders during project construction works or change of client requirement in the middle of the project..

    the other one, may not be big but important: Considering the cost and time only as a key factor of project success than Quality & Safety.

    Thacks Regards

    ------------------------------
    Naveenkumar Chilakwad Aff.M.ASCE
    Manager QA/QC
    Bangalore North
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Q. Why Projects Fail Due To Four Common Causes

    Posted 05-03-2021 01:01 PM
    Thanks, Naveenkumar for your insightful input.

    I do wonder what, in general, you would estimate for each comment as a percentage of the total.

    Cheers,
    Bill


    ------------------------------
    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Q. Why Projects Fail Due To Four Common Causes

    Posted 05-03-2021 09:02 AM
    ROLE AMBIGUITY……………………__40__
    Lack of PROBLEM VALIDATION. . . . __25___
    Lack of PROCESS VERIFICATION. …- ___20_
    ABSENCE OF A VISIBLE PROACTIVE
    CONFLICT PROCESS. . . . . . . . . . . ____15____

                                                                  100%



    ------------------------------
    Evan Chan P.E., F.ASCE
    General Manager
    Aurora ON
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Q. Why Projects Fail Due To Four Common Causes

    Posted 05-03-2021 01:01 PM
    Thanks, Evan for answering the questions as provided.

    Cheers,
    Bill

    ------------------------------
    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Q. Why Projects Fail Due To Four Common Causes

    Posted 05-03-2021 09:03 AM
    Lack of Planning, Lack of Project Team Alignment and Scope of Work Definition are missing, if this is supposed to be a list of common project failure causes.

    ------------------------------
    Michael Kozinetz Aff.M.ASCE
    Construction Manager
    Murrells Inlet SC
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Q. Why Projects Fail Due To Four Common Causes

    Posted 05-03-2021 01:01 PM
    Hi Michael, thanks for your exam[ples.

    So if you added your comments to the list that started this dialogue,
    what estimate of each would you say, in general, create a common list by
    percentage of the occurrence.

    Cheers,
    Bill

    ------------------------------
    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Q. Why Projects Fail Due To Four Common Causes

    Posted 05-03-2021 10:17 AM
    ROLE AMBIGUITY……………………_40_
    Lack of PROBLEM VALIDATION. . . . _30__
    Lack of PROCESS VERIFICATION. …- _10_
    ABSENCE OF A VISIBLE PROACTIVE
    CONFLICT PROCESS. . . . . . . . . . . ___20___

                                                                  100%



    ------------------------------
    David McCormick P.E., D.WRE, M.ASCE
    Partner
    McCormick Engineering LLC
    South Bend IN
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Q. Why Projects Fail Due To Four Common Causes

    Posted 05-10-2021 09:27 AM
    1. Conflict Process - 10%
    2. Lack of Problem Verification - 10%
    3. Lack of Problem Validation -  10%
    4. Role Ambiguity - 35%
    5. Absence of a visible Pro-active - 35%

    sample live scenario:

    A new program to be injected into the company portfolio is directly executed by uninforming stakeholders.
    The new program is the consolidation of existing programs and subprograms(2) which are existing and running smoothly. And taking conclusion that because it is running smooth, consolidating those programs and subprograms will also run smoothly.
    What happens is that all stakeholders ( companies)  involved will not be cooperated due to the fact (2 & 3 ) that consolidation will cause, a. decreasing or removing some responsibility and control (4) and all shows lack of interest or either creating scenario to make this program impossible(5).

    Solution on this can be referred to on PMbook in a Project Management Approached, were creating this consolidation possible.


    ------------------------------
    Manolito Cresencio A.M.ASCE
    QS Qupervisor
    Riyadh
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Q. Why Projects Fail Due To Four Common Causes

    Posted 05-10-2021 09:26 PM
    Thanks, Manolito for answering the question, and providing your explanation.

    I have very fond memories of being in Riyadh some years ago....actually, for 3 times across that many years.
    I was engaged to provide an interactive 2-day seminar for some 50 or more engineers and others on the
    system of quality management for projects. It may have been around the mid-1990s.

    Stay Healthy!
    Cheers,
    Bill

    ------------------------------
    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: Q. Why Projects Fail Due To Four Common Causes

    Posted 05-17-2021 10:37 AM