Why do software projects fail? Most common reasons
Software Development
Margo Kosnik

Why do software projects fail? Most common reasons

How many times have you managed the project and had no delays, delivered it on time, and the all process went on as planned? Rarely? Not at all? A software project is a very specific challenge and certainly not easy to implement. There are many reasons why these types of projects fail. Let’s analyze them and give your business a better chance of success.

The latest statistical data shows that only one of every fourth software project is successfully completed. In accordance with the previously set guidelines, it’s easy to see the struggle for success in the tech industry. If we take into account how important software development is for the advancement of most products (and for the companies themselves), we easily realize that the issue of project failure is rather serious. The very fact that, statistically, over 25% of the software projects fail says everything.

The question arises: why is this happening? Here a number of decisive factors come into play. Example? Clients often forget about the so-called “user-involvement”. The point is that the vision and outline of the product, oftentimes, come to life without the participation of the customer. This is the first and main mistake. This results in a number of changes in the design, complications, delays and many more issues, about which we have discussed below.

Here are the factors that, in our opinion, most affect the results of a software project:

Lack of developers and not enough time

55% of software projects fail due to lack of time to deliver the product. Unrealistic timing for the implementation of the project is one of the most frequent mistakes. Software developers are forced to work fast and hard, a factor that negatively affects, among other things, the quality of the coding. Errors in the code - as you probably know - cause additional problems in the final product and extend the work timeframe.

Another issue is the quality of the team. The problem could be that there are either not qualified software developers or simply not enough professional engineers to carry out the project as planned.

Good approach:

The right approach to help you achieve your goals is to follow the Software Development Cycle. You can read more about this process here.

In addition, remember that software projects are not only developers' work and code writing sevices, but they also very often include UI/UX design. Therefore, remember to write down the full documentation of your project at the very beginning and make sure that the whole team that will develop your product is on the same page and always up-to-date on potential changes. It is also worthy to implement best code review practices in order to avoid major mistakes beforehand.

Insufficient budget

If you try to keep the project costs within the limited budget you set (and by all means, you will want to avoid exceeding it), it is very likely that your efforts will bring the project to a failure. There are two solutions possible. You will either have to take on less experienced developers for a lower rate or give up some part of the work. Probably neither of these solutions satisfies you.

Good approach:

Take into account whether it is better to exceed the budget 10-20%, but to create a high-quality software product. In a short time you will be convinced of the advantages of this solution, when you see that the product is working properly and that your customers are satisfied with it. The result will be worth the extra investment.

Moreover, if you are considering working with software house, try to find one that has documented successes in cooperation with companies from the same industry as yours. Ask for a case study of similar projects, and in this way, you will verify the effectiveness and credibility of the potential partner.

Proper communication

Another very important issue. You need to be sure that all the project’s members are aware of the goals and have a clearly defined division of their responsibilities. This applies to the organization of work, which also affects communication. This element must be properly managed so that no misunderstandings or even conflicting interests arise during the project.


Good approach:

If you are Project Owner or you personally supervise it, get together with all the members regularly. Clearly present all the requirements, get to know their opinion and stay up-to-date with the progress of the project. Set clear rules, so that everyone knows what to focus on, what the goal is and what is expected.

Examining the progress of the project

The assumptions often change during the ongoing project. This can cause problems with the control of its progress. It is possible that, as a consequence of any changes, you will lose the orientation and the initial goal of the project.

Good approach:

Decide on the project management model that is right for your business. One that will guarantee you full transparency of the work. We can recommend the Scrum methodology.

It is designed for small/medium teams, and it consists of cyclical sprints, no longer than two weeks to one month, where the team focuses on performing strictly defined tasks, then track the progress, re-plan in 15-minute daily meetings, and only after their implementation proceeds to the next tasks. This approach will ensure your project's fluency. Also remember that in accordance with the Agile principles (on which the Scrum concept is based), you should carry out regular tests at every stage of the project. It is a guarantee of high quality and helps prevent possible mistakes.

Read more about this methodology here and learn how to implement it in your team.

Choose the proper technology

Well-chosen technology for your product is the key. It ensures reliability, security, and speed. Do not be close-minded towards the new ideas of a software house or developers with whom you work. They probably have very extensive experience and they can definitely help you choose the right technologies.

Good approach:

Consider building your product on an MVP basis and choose the technology that will be most effective for this solution. We have already written about the advantages of MVP in this article. Remember that thanks to this, you have the opportunity to reduce costs and significantly speed up the process.

Mistakes in management

As we have mentioned before in this article, the software projects are very specific and require proper management. You, as a project leader or a person supervising it, should know your role in the team, stimulate its development and pursue its goals with your actions.

Good approach:

Analyze your previous projects and think about what mistakes you made. Perhaps you could have taken different decisions that would have been much more effective? Familiarize yourself with the good practices of other managers in similar positions and industries. In this article, you will read about the qualities of a good tech leader.

Scope Creep and Gold Plating

Unexpected changes in the project, additional tasks, or distraction - all of these glitches in your project might negatively affect all the members - both you and software developers. How to deal with it?

Good approach:

Be ready for it. Learn good practices that will help you creep and gold plating. There are many tricks that help manage such situations. However, remember that if your project is well thought out and carefully planned from the very beginning if the division of roles in the team and assigned tasks are clear to everyone, then you will reduce these types of threats. More about Scope Creep and Gold Plating read here.


In this article, we described the seven most common mistakes in software projects. However, you must remember that risk factors can be many more - depending on the type of project and industry. Try to be ready. I can’t stress enough the importance of the daily tasks of a project supervisor, such as planning, monitoring, checking, and verifying. Think carefully about each of the stages, think about any obstacles, and try to prevent or eliminate them as quickly as possible. In this way, all the implementations will run smoothly and you give your software project a better chance of success.

Digital product development consulting

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