project risks

5 Signs Your Project may be Headed for Failure

August 9, 2012 by

Project management can be tough! Here are five warning signs that should tell you that your project is on the road to ruin. Let’s get started, in no particular order.


5 Signs Your Project may be Headed for Failure

1.  Project Milestones Aren’t Met

Seems like an obvious one, but I figured I’d include it anyway.  If you have been tracking and re-planning your projects throughout the project, then this shouldn’t be an issue for you.

But if you discover that your project is falling behind and your milestones are not being met, sometimes even re-planning won’t fix the problem, even if they are the most experienced of Project Managers.


2.  Poor communication

If people are not communicating, then they are not collaborating.  A project manager must keep the lines of communication open up and down the chain of command.

Senior executives should be kept in the loop (for both good and bad news) and team members as well so they know what tasks they are responsible for.  Communication needs to clear and open so there is no misunderstanding, because “if it is anybody’s job, no one will do it.”

Breakdowns in communication will hinder the progress of your project because no one will be on the same page.


3.  Lack of visibility

Project visibility (or lack thereof!) is often cited as a reason for project failure, at all levels of the project hierarchy.

For senior management and project stakeholders, this refers to visibility into project status.  A common complaint is that they do not have insight into accurate project data until the project is too far gone.

Project managers are looking for want to easily get updates from their team to understand how the project is progressing and how resources are being utilized.  Without visibility, it is tough for the Project Manager to effectively manage projects collaboratively.

Lack of visibility effects team members as well, who need to know what tasks are assigned to them and what are priorities.


4.  Unrealistic project schedules

Sometimes a customer or project stakeholder will ask for the impossible, and more often than not a Project Manager will agree to those parameters, however unrealistic they may be.  Unrealistic project schedules put excessive pressure on developers, which hurts the morale and productivity of the project team.

When aggressive targets are set, project teams act irrationally, and might even skip important project items, which ultimately impacts on delivery and actually extends projects.


5.  “Everything is great here, boss!”

A project environment where nothing seems to be going wrong should be cause for concern. As we already know, no project plan EVER goes according to plan.  So if you are a project stakeholder and your PM is telling you that the project is ahead of schedule and under budget, be a little suspicious.

A Project Sponsor once told me that a “Sponsors never like bad news, but they hate bad news late.”

A project manager is responsible for the success of the project, and as such must be honest about the true status of the project. If bad news is hidden, then when it’s revealed it is often too late to do anything about it.


Don’t let your project fail! Download the free SharePoint Project Management Template from BrightWork to get your projects back on the road to success. With this template, you will:

  • Easily plan your project with a pre-configured project management template.
  • Get instant visibility into the status your project with KPIs and visual reporting dashboards.
  • Collaborate more effectively with your team in a centralized project site in SharePoint.


Image credit 

Billy Guinan

Billy is a Demand Generation Manager at BrightWork, where he helps customers successfully manage their projects and portfolios using SharePoint.

Billy is a graduate of the Villanova School of Business and holds a Master’s degree from National University of Ireland, Galway. Outside of BrightWork, he enjoys reading, trying to golf, and walking his pug named Nova.
Billy Guinan

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