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  • Writer's pictureMelarka Williams

Here’s Why Your Software Development Projects Are Failing

Updated: Aug 18, 2018

Software Development failure
Software Development failure image

Software Development projects aren’t like other projects. It takes greater flexibility and adaptability from each stakeholder involved in the end-to-end process. For this reason, such methodologies and practices like Agile and DevOps were invented and implemented to facilitate the need for such versatility.

However, without the experience or training to truly understand and appreciate the entire Software Development process, projects too often fail to be completed on time and on budget. This is why we recommend outsourcing the process to Engineers and Project Managers with the experience and expertise to get the job done effectively and efficiently.

From our experience working with clients, these are the main reasons why software development projects tend to fail.

7 Reasons Software Development Projects Tend to Fail

1. Improper Business/System Requirements gathering

If you were to ask what is the number one reason why most projects fail, lack of proper business/system requirements gathering would be at the top of our list. We have seen where 70% of projects we have come across failed because no requirements were done or requirements were improperly gathered.

According to Statista ‘Changing or poorly documented requirements’ is the number one reason at 48% why most software development projects fail.

When requirements aren’t properly gathered, then developers can miss key functionalities in the process flow, and needs of the organization. This inevitably leads to a completed system that is not up to user standards or specifications, and as a result creates delays in meeting the deadline of the project, and increases in costs.

2. Can’t find persons who are trained in the right skillsets for the job

Understanding a software development project in theory is one thing, executing it to success is another. Most companies don’t have the budget or resources to train Engineers or hire experienced ones.

Typically, you will have someone who is an IT employee or junior developer, but aren’t experienced in how to execute complex software development projects. Yet they are thrown into projects they have neither the skill set nor training for.

However, what companies need to realize is there is a significant difference between an engineer who can code, versus an engineer who can manage a development project from start to finish.

3. Not enough personnel to handle all the projects

There are instances where the company may have the right personnel with the right training, skill set, and experience, but due to the high demands from multiple projects they are unable to fulfill project demands and deadlines.

We had a client that only had one Quality Assurance specialist, and this one person was responsible for managing and testing several projects in a major enterprise. With the high demand for such a large company, with several projects running at once, it made things overwhelming for their specialist, hence it caused several projects to run behind schedule.

4. Lack of proper project management

There are many individuals with different roles throughout the development process. There is the Team of Engineers and Quality Assurance specialist who work on coding and testing, as well as the Scrum Master who facilitates guidance of the team and helps reduce or eliminate obstacles and hindrances to completion. There is one other very important role, the Project Manager.

This is the person that is responsible for planning, organizing, and overseeing the entire process to ensure that it will be completed within time and budget. This person also mitigates against any potential risks that may arise during the development process.

Many projects fail because companies fail to see and understand the value in having a Project Manager. Someone who can have a high-level view of what needs to happen and what could happen that may hinder a project, and plan accordingly.

5. No time or personnel for proper testing (projects rushed)

Often development projects are delayed for reasons that were outlined above. As a result, most projects tend to be rushed to be completed on time. However, there is a key part of the software development process that most companies never factor. This is allocating time for proper testing to ensure system quality. Tests such as System Integration and User Acceptance testing are things to always consider.

Questions such as “Can this system integrate with others if it needs to?”, “Does the system perform the tasks as it should?”, or “Will it offer a seamless user experience?” These are all questions that should be answered during the testing phase of the project.

Development projects fail because companies either don’t have the personnel with the skillsets to perform these tests, or its importance and value isn’t understood.

6. Loss of key internal talent

We have seen instances of projects failing because the key talent or person working on the project decided to leave the company, or had to be reassigned to a new project the company deemed more important at the moment.

This puts the project in a deadlock where nothing can be done and the project has to be shelved for a later date (sometimes years), which means time and money allocated wasted.

7. Inefficient Dev tools and processes

A major part that contributes to the success to any development project is ensuring that team members are equipped with the right tools to manage and execute projects.

Tools such as JIRA for effective project management, or Stride for seamless communication and collaboration between team members.

Projects fail because the team isn’t able to execute efficiently, and everyone having a holistic view on the progress and process of entire Software Development Life Cycle from start to end.

More importantly, understanding how their role contributes to the overall success of said project. When this isn’t made clear roles get confused, tasks aren’t executed properly, and deadlines are missed.


Any Software Development project is much more complex and has a lot more moving parts than most people consider or even understand. It’s very important to know the end-to-end process of a development project.

Knowing how to plan and organize for risks, having a proper requirements gathering process, and having the right personnel with the right skill sets and experience to execute is key to prevent failure.

Also, the right tools and allocating enough time minimizes or eliminates the risk of projects not being completed on time and on budget, and thus failing.

What other factors may cause a dev project to fail? Share your thoughts below in the comment section

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