Handling a failing development project is a part of the job. Professionals know that every project doesn’t go according to plan. Some falter and crumble due to obvious reasons while others are met with unforeseen challenges.
The ability to turn a failing development project into a success takes experience and knowhow. Asking why your development project is going up in flames is only one part of the job. Knowing why, and then solving the problem takes real skill.
There are many ways to deal with a failing development project. Having an overarching project plan which promotes the idea of a sustainable development project is an obvious solution. However, reaching this level of project planning and development takes time.
In other words, professionals must first understand the reasons behind the failure of development projects.
In this piece, we try to do the same.
Expecting Failure – Keeping your head in a Development Project Going Downhill
Before delving into the reasons why your development project is going up in flames, understand this. The habit of expecting failure at every turn is extremely crucial.
Very often, developers expect no kind of challenge when working on a new project. They expect to breeze past every part of the process. Thus, when they do face a challenge such as a failing development project, they freeze.
Generally, professionals do not expect any kind of failure. This is despite many examples of failed development projects. Every developer trusts their project plan and believes a sustainable development project will lead to positive outcomes. However, unforeseen circumstances, human error, and market forces have their own way of causing failure.
In order to deal with failure, professionals must first learn to expect it. If they expect it, they can then imbibe the knowledge to deal with it and overcome the challenge.
This internal process of expecting failure is crucial because it gives professionals the framework to later deal with a development project in crisis.
Thus, all professionals must internalize the fact that failures in development projects are normal. They have to develop the rare ability of dealing with them.
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The Reasons Why Your Development Project is going up in Flames
What are the reasons behind failing development projects? The answer to the question is not a one-liner. Giving an objective and universal reason for every development failure is impossible.
As Leo Tolstoy said in Anna Karenina,
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”
The same is true for development projects. Success often comes because developers follow a systematic project plan aimed towards sustainable project development. However, failure can arise due to infinite reasons.
However, our job here is to point out some obvious reasons behind failing development projects.
To do this, we have gathered information from many project planning and development failures and collated the reasons behind the downfall.
We also provide clear solutions for each failure and how they can be avoided in the first place. In short, professionals can indeed learn to avoid the reasons which end up causing failing development projects.
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Reason Number One – Lack of Communication
Ignore the generally boring corporate seminars that speak about communication. Instead, try to grasp its real value.
During project planning and development, there are many variables one has to consider. Even in a team of two, it is more than likely both professionals are not on the same page. This gap in communication leads to inefficient use of time and resources.
There are countless instances of developers in a team who end up working on the same thing instead of using their energies on separate parts of a projects. Situations like these arise only because there is not enough communication.
Tackling a lack of communication is a very big challenge. Sometimes, companies adopt feckless policies which try to manage the communication problem with forced interaction. This approach tends to fail in the long run. The best thing a company can do is create a channel for open communication and give real responsibilities to the professionals involved.
This works in two ways. Firstly, professionals find a channel for communication they can use effectively. Secondly, they actually have an incentive to communicate because of the responsibility on their shoulder. Thus, improving communication by adding an incentive is the best possible solution and reduces the chances of a failing development project.
Reason Number Two – Lack of Post-Launch Analysis
Most developers believe their work is done when the development project ends. In other words, a project development company has no role to play after something goes to market.
This is generally the type of mistake companies make when they disregard market research and audience feedback. A good example of a failed development project which failed because of market forces is Betamax.
Betamax was launched in 1975 as a device which recorded audio on a cassette. It came to market before VHS and was primed to rule this space for years. However, the eventual arrival of VHS caused the downfall of Betamax. Even now, it is considered one of the prime examples of a failing development project.
The reason for its failure was a better alternative. However, the people who made Betamax never tried to onboard audience feedback. A cheap and better alternative in the market pushed Betamax out of the competition and the development project was a failure.
The lesson one can draw from Betamax is to never call development projects complete after they go to market. The project development company should keep studying audience and market response to the product. If a better alternative arises, developers must work hard to beat the competition.
New project development should come from a real desire to find market success. This means those working on the project should be ready to go the extra mile. Simply shutting off after the development project ends is not a solution. Furthermore, this is one of the big reasons behind a failing development project.
Reason Number Three – Lack of Awareness of Necessary Resources and Challenges
When a new project development begins, companies should ideally perform a complete autopsy of the task at hand.
This generally means calculating the resources needed to make the project a reality. Furthermore, this also includes studying the possible challenges arising during the project design and development phase.
Jumping into a project without taking these factors into consideration is a miscalculation. It shows a general lack of preparation and understanding of the task at hand.
This is the type of mistake a rookie project development company would make. Every failing development project miscalculates the challenges it has to deal with at some point.
How does one go about removing the lack of awareness causing failing development projects? The answer is simple – better market and audience research.
Market research is crucial because it helps developers find other companies working on similar projects. Then, developers can easily find out the kind of technical and human resources needed to make any given project a reality.
Audience research generally helps figure out the pressing needs faced by people for whom the product development project is taking place. Thus, audience research is crucial as it helps developers notice the pressing need a particular product development project must address. This, in short, helps reduce the chances of there being a failing development project.
This reason behind a failing development project is especially important for small companies. This is because they are in most danger of misjudging the resources needed for a new product development project. Thus, small startups and companies must always know the resources and challenges of the project they choose to take on.
Reason Number Four – Lack of Timeline
One of the reasons behind a failing development project can also be the lack of a timeline.
This simply means companies don’t always start their work without a real timeline to finish the project. A problem like this typically arises because companies don’t have a clear purpose or methodology.
There is first a need to understand this – every development project must have a goal. In fact, a failing development project generally doesn’t have a real goal. The presence of an ultimate goal or objective tends to bring everything else in order.
If there is a goal in mind, the project design and development planning naturally fall into place. The developers at the head of the project plan give emphasis to ensure a sustainable development project when a goal is in the picture.
Generally, a goal also brings a timeline into the mix. Thus, having an objective can also solve the problem of a lack of a timeline.
This type of problem happens when companies start projects half-heartedly. Since there is not a real desire to complete a project, there is no concrete timeline either. This speaks to a larger problem in big and small companies these days. In the race to beat the competition, heads of development often commission a lot of development projects. However, they don’t account for the viability of most of them or the ability of developers to complete most of them.
A pile of incomplete projects without any real timeline permeates a culture of failure. Many big companies thus have to deal with the problem of a failing development project every week.
The simple act of setting a timeline and a goal reduces the chances of a failing development project from happening.
Reason Number Five – Lack of Tracking
A lack of monitoring is also a reason behind a failing development project. Companies have the technology to track the progress of every development project. Thus, if a development project fails because of a lack of tracking, it suggests a sorry state of affairs.
Big and small companies begin new project development because they want to provide value to their customers and audience.
However, the success of the project is shaped by a number of factors, as is its failure.
When a company doesn’t track the progress of its development projects, there is a great chance of many projects failing. The reason is simple. Supervision works because it puts those working on the project on notice. Delivery becomes a real expectation, certain milestones become important, and developers have to become more accountable.
All these things are only possible with the help of project tracking.
How does one make project tracking effective? Firstly, pervasive tracking doesn’t work and usually alienates the developers working. Companies must balance the freedom they give their developers with the need to track progress.
In modern project design and development, there are many tools one can use for tracking. Screen tracking and key tracking software are technical solutions. However, they are only technical solutions. In conclusion, it is the company which has to develop a culture and framework of accountability. Tracking project progress is only one way of avoiding a failing development project. However, real long term change is only possible with an attitude change.
Thus, companies have to change the way they hire developers to create an environment of accountability. The use of tracking software can help momentarily stem the situation of failing development projects. However, the long term solution is to making progress tracking a mere formality, not a necessary measure.
The reasons are many. In this piece, we have made an effort to talk about the five main reasons behind a failing development project. If companies generally take care of these five reasons, their chances of dealing with a failing development project reduce.
However, there is also a warning here. These reasons alone are not behind every failing development project. As mentioned before, the reasons for failure are nearly endless. It is thus up to companies to be ready to face any challenge during the development process.