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The Key Indicators Your Project Is Failing


Project managers want to see their project succeed and benefit society. However, some projects will fail, and project managers understand this paradox of failure versus success. Yet, identifying the indicators of potential failure can be the defining step between project success and failure.

If you notice any of the following events, your project could be on the verge of failure. Fortunately, recognizing these signs early can save your project.

Repetitive Delays

Delays represent an added expense to the company and greater chance of deviation from project deadlines. Some companies may decide to cut funding for your project on the basis on excessive delays, and you need to identify and explain the causes and outcome of any delays. When delays occur, your project management team needs to have a plan in place to ensure productivity and overall deadline adherence will not be affected.

Reducing Support From Executive-Level Leadership

When executive-level leadership seems to lose interest in your project, this is of major concern. Lost interest in authoritative positions leads to cut funding resources and the closure of your project. Strive to stay in communication with executive-level leadership through routine updates, reporting, and monitoring of all project processes. If you anticipate a delay, provide information to executives on the delay’s impact on the project and how you will address the delay.

Excessive Audits of Documentation

Audits are a consistent aspect of maintaining visibility in your project. However, excessive auditing shows distrust between the company and your project management team. To combat this problem, follow similar actions to maintaining support with executive-level leadership. Furthermore, do not destroy documentation in any instance. Keeping all of your records will show your project management team’s accountability and role in ensuring the company meets all applicable federal, state, and local regulations.

Reductions in Funding

Reduced funding for your project is the primary indicator of a project’s imminent failure. However, some funding cuts may be necessary to ensure the overall scope of your project is achieved. For example, cutting overtime funding does not necessarily equate to lost sources of funding. If this happens, consider hiring additional workers or outsourcing tasks to available parties, such as staffing agencies when your full-time workers are about to enter overtime. If funding for your project has been reduced, inquire as to why the reduction occurred. This will provide you with insight into what your project management team and staff needs to do differently to avoid further reductions in the future.

While you may want to panic when these indicators appear, you must remain calm under pressure. These indicators reveal problems within your project’s progress. By learning to recognize these indicators, you can change specific processes to reduce the risk of project failure.

Key Indicators to Write Down

  • Repetitive, unwarranted delays in your project indicate multiple failures.
  • Executive-Level support should be monitored for signs of lost interest and support.
  • Respond to excessive audits positively, and retain all records to maintain accountability throughout excessive audits.
  • If funding sources are reduced, it can indicate minimal changes in a company’s policies. However, recurrent reductions in funding sources are the most prominent indicator of eventual project failure.

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