Five reasons why software projects fail

It’s the era of software projects, be it mobile phone software Apps, front end developments or a current seasonal project it’s clear that there has been a lot of growth in the software development industry. This is good as it comes with a lot of pressure and competition from all corners, and is positive for overall industry growth.


Certainly the past 5 years has seen a rise and healthy progression in the technology industry, for example we have seen smartphones and Apps becoming our daily staples, the manufacturers and developers have catered to all users’ tastes across the board. This is just one indication that everyone is fascinated with technology hence why all have to be catered for. You might say that the proliferation of technology has driven the tremendous growth seen in the software development industry as a whole.

There is a scramble to be the first one, the first mover, never mind the best in our industry that has seen companies rise from nothing to multi billion valuation because of a software they invented. Clearly some sort of pressure and need to complete is a healthy and fertile playground for the industry. It is therefore no surprise that many projects come out, many failing at the first hurdle. The volume of start-up software projects is increasing and it’s logical to assume that the current rate of failure will hold at it’s current rate. Here are five reasons why software projects fail.

1. Poor planning

Poor planning is one of the main things that leads to project failure. You will set yourself up with unrealistic expectations on delivery that will throw the budget out of the window entirely. Timeframe issues quickly catch up with you leaving a lack of room for flexibility or adjustments when it comes to milestone deliverable.

Companies should plan to the nth degree for their software projects, ensuring capacity is left for the unknown unknowns. To do this the project manager will need to understand the entire project ‘end to end’ and have a clear handle on the deliverables at each stage of development.

2. Inadequate detail in the scope/ requirements documentation

Lack of enough information and improper preparation with information can lead to the project getting stuck and at best stalling, at worst, failing. This would usually be the responsibility of the Business Analyst (which could also be the account manager or project manager of they have the skills). If the person does not obtain sufficient information in the discovery phase it will affect the entire project. It is vital for the analyst to check any competitor’s software, analyse the market, check what new process are being implemented specify how it is to be developed.

Proper analysis of the market, competition and general landscape will close any loop holes in delivery. Remember, analyse the development cost and compare it to pre-sale plan.

3. Rushed projects and competition

It is a first come, first served race. The first one to market and make something unique and beautiful wins where as others lose. Not everyone can think of unique apps and many try to copy others which results in failure – they are rushing just to complete and not to give a quality end product

4. Lack of Experience and flexibility

We should know when to accept changes during the project and when to agree to variations for the work that may not have been considered (or applicable) earlier. This is the only way to stay straight and on plan if anything unexpected comes up. The entire project can come to a halt if you can’t take fast decisions and verify what is in the scope and what’s out of it. The fact is, as a project progresses, more desired features and functionality can come to light and you (or your developer) need to assess these, and decide whether to include in the first iteration or put it on the feature request queue for next time.

5. Improper test case coverage

The software testing team should have an early engagement with the software development team. Communication between the entire team is important through the project. This is so they ensure that every detail of requirements and scope is captured in the test cases. Improper test case coverage is one of the prime reasons for software project failure.

Software that doesn’t work, is buggy or generally irritating for end users will not be successful. Full stop.