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5 Reasons Software Projects Fail (Hint: It’s Often Due to Incomplete, Incorrect Requirements)

Business analysts are the link between the business stakeholders, an organization’s goals, and the IT teams responsible for software project success. As such, BAs can have a significant impact on whether software projects succeed or fail.

According to recent research by Project Management Solutions, the five reasons software projects fail are the following, and all are areas where business analysts have an important role to play.

1. Requirements: If software and systems requirements are poorly defined (unclear, unprioritized, unconsumable, incomplete, unreflective of business goals and objectives) projects are more likely to fail.
2. Resources: If the business analyst team skills and processes are not mature, software projects will be at risk.
3. Schedules: Rework impacts schedules; if the business analyst team doesn’t provide complete and consumable requirements, errors and rework will increase. Further, accurately estimating the time it will take to create good requirements will reduce the impact on downstream schedules and development/QA teams. (You can download a requirements estimation template for business analysts here.)
4. Planning: For projects like legacy retirement, COTS implementation, and e-commerce/transactional systems, requirements definition is part of the planning needed to reduce project failure due to insufficient data, incomplete or poorly defined details, and any lack of business objectives clarity.
5. Risks: Thorough, complete requirements elicitation will help identify the assumptions that lead to “unforeseen” project risks.

Failure doesn’t have to happen. Research cited by Michael Krigsman in his CIO Analysis blog shows “when organizations take actions to recover troubled projects, they are highly successful. Almost three quarters (74%) of the troubled projects that underwent a recovery intervention in the past three years were recovered.”

For resources that can help mature business analyst organizations, reduce the risk of project failure and assist in at-risk project recovery, download free templates, white papers, and reports from the Seilevel main website.

5 Responses to 5 Reasons Software Projects Fail (Hint: It’s Often Due to Incomplete, Incorrect Requirements)

  1. David Gelperin March 7, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    Readers of this blog entry might be interested in a short article titled “Best Requirements Management Platform”. It is available by downloading the March 2012 Newsletter of the Requirements Engineering Specialist Group of the BCS
    at http://www.resg.org.uk/index.php/Newsletter

  2. Justin March 7, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    This is almost like the 3 R’s of Software Product Management:

    Requirements, Resources and Risks

    Executed with project management best-practices around planning and scheduling, most product development snafus can be boiled down to these critical components. Nice to be reminded.

  3. Lori Witzel March 8, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    Hi David! Thanks for sharing the link with our readers! I’ll have our research team take a look at the article as well.

    Justin, thanks for stopping by!

  4. Fred September 1, 2016 at 10:25 pm #

    Interesting read. very timely as my most recent project mirrors the issues described in the article.. time to roll up sleeves.


  1. Five Reasons why software projects fail. « Five Reasons Software Projects Fail - March 8, 2012

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