Payson Hall is a consulting systems engineer and project manager from Catalysis Group, Inc. in
Sacramento. Formally trained as a software engineer, Payson has performed and consulted on
a variety of hardware and software systems integration projects in both the public and private
sectors throughout North America and Europe during his 20-year professional career.
Copyright © 2001, Catalysis Group, Inc.
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Avoiding Project Failure
Catalysis Group, Inc.
If business projects are part of your profession, you know that many projects fail to live up to
their potential. Some projects fail to achieve their schedule or budget goals or fail to deliver everything
initially promised. Still other projects simply fail altogether. Many of the problems faced by projects
can be avoided, or at least contained, by effective project management practices. Using a “Top Ten”
list as a framework, this article highlights 10 of the most frequent reasons for project failure, and
examines some alternatives and remedies for each.
Top Ten Statements suggesting a Project is in trouble
1. “This project is too important to fail.”
Often the response to concerns expressed about some important part of the project, this
statement generally sends the message that “negative thinking” is unacceptable - Get over it… Any
project, no matter how important, can fail.
Probably the single most dangerous project management attitude is one that denies failure is a
possibility. Identifying project problems early and working to address them increases the likelihood
of project success.
Team members must be encouraged to voice issues and concerns, not reprimanded for “negative
2. “Everyone knows that this budget is unrealistic, just don’t tell the sponsor.”
A project is not a project unless it has a “sponsor” or “client”, a person who funding the effort
and ultimately believes that the value of a project is worth the cost. Sometimes a misguided project