Why do Software Development Projects Fail?


We realize the importance and our dependence on software’s once we have to survive without them. Close your eyes and imagine a life without WhatsApp or Google Maps; yes, this is exactly what I’m trying to explain here. 

However, like any other project, it is possible for softwares to fail as well. There can be multiple reasons behind the failure of softwares. It can be a mistake as small as a pea that can cause you this failure therefore focus and accuracy is the key for success. 

When the user realises that the software has failed to deliver the desired results, that right there is a software failure! 

In order to prevent software from failing, you need to know the reasons behind their failure. Once you and your team are educated about the possible reasons that can lead to potential downfall of your software and the resultant risks associated with it, you’ll do anything in your power to avoid them no matter what the cost. 

Think of the scenarios that can arise as a result of failed softwares. There can be lethal data outages that can literally flush billions of dollars down the drain. 

A recent software failure that caused a lot of chaos was the software failure of Heathrow Airport on the 16th February 2020. It affected the departure and arrival boards causing the passengers to remain clueless. Just a small technical error caused such inconvenience.

There might have been little or no financial loss but the chaotic disruption is a brimming vice in itself that can cause the most feared loss of all, the downturn of high value loyal customers. Isn’t that scary? Building a loyal customer base takes years of marketing and a flawless customer experience and it can all be undone within seconds with one little slip. 

There can be multiple in-house software glitches in organizations as well that can cause the company a great loss in terms of financials as well as data outage. 

This list of reasons behind software failure include increased cost of operations, insufficient resources, scheduling, costing, etc. These reasons can be a serious threat to the success and profit output of companies. 

These mistakes are preventable in all ways. So why waste thousands of dollars doing preventable mistakes, right? Just re-read the below mentioned ten reasons that state “why softwares fail?” and ensure that you DO NOT make the same mistakes. 

10 common reasons behind software failures

Why do Software Development Projects Fail
10 common reasons behind software failures
  1. Accepting a completion date without analysis
  2. Use of outdated technology
  3. Inadequate planning and management
  4. Unclear project requirements
  5. Project management failure
  6. Too many people assigned on the software development project
  7. Too few people assigned on the software development project
  8. Not reviewing project progress on a regular basis
  9. Hiring incompetent IT specialists because they charge less
  10. Demotivated team

1. Accepting a completion date without analysis

One of the main reasons behind software failures is the fact that IT teams agree upon milestone dates without any proper research and analysis. 

Publicly speculating that a software project will be done by a specific date is enforcing a realistic/unrealistic deadline upon the team that isn’t the best of ideas. 

Haste produces waste hence it is advised that sufficient time and resources should be allocated to the technical team regarding the completion of software projects. 

Giving them short time margins will not only lead to panic but also software failures and a bad market name for companies. 

Therefore, it is significant for the teams to have realistic completion dates with an effective team and resources. 

2. Use of outdated technology

The world is evolving, right? You see new and advanced softwares everywhere, be it your dentist’s clinic or your school’s attendance; modernisation has taken over in every possible way. 

In this modernised era, if your team is supposed to use legacy and outdated technology, what else other than a software failure do you expect to happen? 

In this era, it is important for us to evolve and modernise according to the world in order to gain success. 

One of the reasons behind software failures is the fact that some organizations haven’t modernised and their teams are deprived of the latest technology and techniques. 

This doesn’t only increase the time required for developing a software but it also increases the chances of software failures to occur. 

3. Inadequate planning and management

Innotats found in a research that 55% of IT specialists complained that most software projects fail as a result of insufficient resources, staff, time, and management. 

Many things can go wrong when it comes to software development. The upper management often is unaware of the exact resources required for software completion hence there is mostly a delay and a failure. 

Similarly, the stakeholders and owners often sign up to unrealistic expectations and then a software failure is bound to happen. 

All of this is a result of inadequate planning. The upper management as well as the owners should keep the technology team in loop before planning and managing deadlines and resources. 

Ensuring this only will bring a drastic change. It will set realistic deadlines as well as sufficient and required resources will be retrieved. 

4. Unclear project requirements

In order for a successful software development, every key requirement should be presented to the tech department right at the start of the project. Why so? Because this will ensure that the project is laid upon those requirements from the beginning. 

If you expect to tell a IT specialist a specific requirement for your software towards the end of its completion, it is highly unlikely that it will be executed in the given time frame. 

This however can be solved through product discovery workshops. They align the teams involved and help determine the scope of a product before its development by pinpointing details regarding the successful completion of a project such as its estimated price and time required. 

Sometimes, the managers themselves aren’t sure about the guidelines and requirements of a software hence they leave the software developers unclear. This increases the chance of the occurrence of a software failure. 

If the software developers are unsure of how the software will scale, it is not possible for them to cater to the organisation’s requirements and expectations out of the software at any cost. 

5. Project management failure

A good project manager is essential to almost any project in the entire world. Without a competent PM, it is unlikely that any team will meet the requirements effectively. 

One of the main reasons behind software failures is the absence of a good project manager. This reason is as important as insufficient budget, IT specialists, and resources. 

Without a project manager, there will be no communication amongst the team members. Isn’t communication the key to successful project completions? 

Therefore, before your team starts with a software development, ensure that they have a competent project manager aboard. This makes a huge and noticeable difference. The chances of a software failure will be reduced as well as the efficiency of your team will increase. 

Why are you still here if you don’t have a project manager hired? Go and hire one immediately for a noticeable change! 

6. Too many people assigned on the software development project

The number of people working on a project definitely has to do with its final outcome. If your team requires 10-12 people and you have hired 20 people, there will be an absolute CHAOS. 

Too many people working on a project means that there will be more arguments, ideas, misunderstandings, and unclear communication. This will lead to compromised quality. 

Different people will join the team at different times hence there will be disturbance in the project because of this factor. 

If you think that hiring more people will speed up the process, it should also be noted that it can reduce the speed since the new people added will have to be trained accordingly and it will take time for them to settle in thus adding people in the middle of a project can be problematic. 

Not only this, it will also increase the overall cost of the project since hiring people is expensive. 

7. Too few people assigned on the software development project

Just as having too many people on a project is problematic, having too few people is also not advisable. 

There are multiple problems that can arise because of this. The foremost being that the team will be inefficient and it will be extremely difficult to meet deadlines in the given time frame. 

In order for a software development project to not fail and be completed successfully, a blend of the correct number of IT specialists is required. 

The correct number of people working in a team will entirely depend on the nature of the project and the time frame.

If a project is supposed to be completed in a short time frame, it is advised that a large team is hired at the beginning so that they are all working on the same pace throughout. 

Similarly, if a project has an extended time frame, having a small to medium team will also be effective and efficient since there will be a clearer communication and more teamwork. 

8. Not reviewing project progress on a regular basis

It is extremely important to timely match your progress with your initial goals and requirements of the project. 

If you fail to do so, you will have to face some not very pleasant surprises and the risk of a software failure lies there.

The best way to go about is that you should do the hard work of frequently looking at the data and cross checking the to-do things and requirements. 

If you do not follow up on your software project, there are chances of a chaos towards the end since there will be a lot of things left to do with very little time margin left therefore checking up on it on a timely basis will prevent this from happening. 

9. Hiring incompetent IT specialists because they charge less

One of the biggest mistakes most organisations do is to hire cheap freelancers and team members for a software completion. 

It is extremely important to invest good money in a good team since the entire project depends upon their expertise. 

It is always a pro-tip to hire a specialist team since good work is never available for a cheap rate. 

Moreover, saving a few dollars at the start and then facing a project failure later that can lead to a huge financial loss that is not exactly a very smart decision, right? 

10. Demotivated team

By now you have realized that the key element of a project is the team working on it. Their expertise and motivation highly determines the success or failure of a software development project. 

If your team is demotivated because they are over burdened or because they are not paid enough, it is likely that their service will not be upto the mark. 

The motivation of your team can be kept intact by keeping them in the loop, by paying them good, and by giving them realistic requirements and deadlines. 

Ensure that your organization does not repeat these mistakes and voila, you just reduced the risk of a software failure to occur! 

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