How PRINCE2® helps to avert project failure

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The number of reasons why projects fail is almost endless. Even with the best of intentions and carefully crafted plans, projects can head south if they are not managed properly. Applying the world-renowned PRINCE2® methodology on your projects can go a long way in ensuring project success.

The table below sets out how PRINCE2® counters some of the most common reasons for project failure.

Poorly managedPoorly defined roles and responsibilitiesProject Management Structure for project created in pre-project Start Up process. Clear role descriptions for each person in the Project Management team setting out their responsibilities, goals, limits of authority, relationships & reporting lines
Lack of a solid project planProject Plan for project created during Initiation Stage, reviewed & updated by Project Manager at the end of each management stage.
Lack of pro-active management initiatives to combat project riskRisk Management Strategy compiled in Initiation stage includes procedure, timing of risk activities and roles & responsibilities. Executive & Project Manager must drive pro-active risk management
Poor communicationCommunication Strategy with proper Stakeholder Engagement Plan compiled during Initiation Stage, revised at the end of every management stage
Overruns of schedule and costBusiness Case compiled to ensure business justification for project during Initiation Stage based on Project Plan, reviewed at each management stage boundary; plans done for each stage of the project; project tolerances set for time and cost
Scope creep Undefined objectives and goalsProject Brief created pre-project in Start Up process; expanded into detailed Project Initiation Document during Initiation Stage to clarify scope
Ignoring project warning signsProject Manager must review stage progress continuously in Controlling a Stage Process Reviews done at the end of each project stage by Project Board before authorizing next stage
Lack of user input Inadequate or vague requirements Meeting end-user expectationsSenior User on Project Board assists in specifying user requirements Customer Quality Expectations defined in Project Brief with measurable Acceptance Criteria in Start Up process Eventual Users involved in quality control activities
Unrealistic timeframes and task Estimates for cost and schedule are erroneousPlans compiled for each Stage of the project – shorter planning horizon Project Assurance advisors to advise whether plans are realistic Project Board must approve project – & stage plans Well-defined planning procedure applied, utilizing the Product-based Planning technique
Insufficient resources (funding and personnel)Appointees to Project Board must have necessary authority to commit resources to project – both (financial & personnel); Executive responsible for project funding arrangements as set out in Business Case
No change control processConfiguration Management Strategy created in Initiation Stage contains formal Change Control Process
Inadequate testing processesQuality Management Strategy created in Initiating a Project stage contains testing processes/methods that must be applied to each product to be delivered by project
Lack of management commitmentCorporate/programme management appoints Executive for project Executive looks after business interests & must ensure project gives value for money
Lack of organisational supportProject Executive must take care of Business interests on project
Universal templates and documentationPRINCE2® not template driven; supports tailoring of documentation to project needs
Stakeholder conflictStakeholder Engagement Procedure implemented
Competing prioritiesCost and risks weighed up against benefits to ensure continued business justification for project; benefits defined at Initiation Stage
Business politicsProject Board has responsibility and authority for the project within the instructions from corporate/programme management in Project Mandate
Lack of prioritization and project portfolio managementProjects prioritized based on Cost/Risks vs Benefits-analysis of project to client as set out in Business Case
Bad decisionsProject Board is main project decision-making authority Tolerances set for project board (by corporate/programme management), project manager (by project board) & team managers (by project manager) If any tolerance is forecast to be exceeded, the problem must be escalated to higher management level


  1. Why projects fail – Oracle
    1. Reasons Why Projects Fail – Tom Carlos