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 Project Failure – What are the reasons for and statistics on it? | PM Tools - PM Tools

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Project Failure – What are the reasons for and statistics on it?

Firstly how do we define project failure or success?

Some examples of failure:

How is success defined?


The stories that are most often highlighted seem to identify projects that have failed rather than those that have been successful, there is also a perception that larger projects have a higher tendency to fail.

High Profile Project Failures

Consider some high profile ‘failures’, the cost of building Wembley or the Channel Tunnel, did the projects come close to the original estimates? 

A recent Channel 4 documentary Dispatches “How They Squander Our Billions” looked in to a number of public projects which have had vast sums (up to billions). One of these projects is the NHS IT scheme [NPfIT] which initially was estimated to cost around £2.3bn. The most recent estimate is £12.7bn.

So what are the statistics?

What are the top reasons for project failure?


* Sources: Standish Group, British Computer Society

Can Project Failure be Avoided?

Yes! The result of poorly trained project managers is that project failure can be controlled and avoided. Project managers need the authority to do their job correctly and will inevitably have the most considerable impact on the result of a project. 

Often it’s not a case of sending project managers on generic public courses that will teach them a pre-defined syllabus from which they will get little reward. Tailored project management training that is designed to fit in with YOUR projects and organization is the way to ensure your project managers are fully equipped to do the task at hand.

Baz is a PRINCE2 Practitioner and a senior project management consultant for Wellingtone Project Management the UK’s leading Project Management Recruitment agency who also offer Project Management Consultancy and customised Project Management Training based on best practice from PRINCE2, APM and PMI.
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