Why Do Software Projects Fail?


Software applications are essential instruments for every modern business today. Companies rely on software to manage nearly every aspect of operations, customer relations, and production, along with a wide range of business processes. Because of the unique nature of businesses, many applications are developed specifically for the organisation, either by in-house programmers or external development firms. Unfortunately, the process of developing these applications can be long and arduous and can test even the most resilient of project managers.

Given the time, effort, and money companies pour into software development, it is frightening to think that many of these projects are destined to fail from the start. In fact, in a study conducted by software developer Geneca, 75% of business and IT executives admitted that their projects are doomed from the start.

While that study offered a clear picture of the pessimism related to software development projects, it is difficult to measure the exact percentage of failed projects for a number of reasons. First of all, companies are not thrilled about sharing their failures. Secondly, there isn’t even a clear way to measure failure. Since, as we will see, these projects often lack the necessary forethought and planning, it can be difficult to even know what success looks like. Maybe a piece of software gets finished but is never released, used, or thought of again so how can you measure that completion as a success?

While digging deeper into the success or failure of software development projects, the dismal results might make you wonder why these projects get started in the first place. Incomplete, abandoned, or failed software development projects are very expensive and the expense goes way beyond the actual money invested. Failure leads to reduced morale, and employee dissatisfaction, and can easily spell the end of a career or even a business. And yet, these applications are a critical component for many businesses so a better way is needed to improve the successful delivery rate of software development projects.

While each software development project has its own requirements and unique risks, by looking at some of the common pitfalls, perhaps we can begin to understand the patterns behind these failures and develop new approaches that may offer better success rates for these organisations.

Reasons Software Projects Fail

Lack of Need

It may seem surprising, but many software development projects have little chance of success because no one has stopped to ask the question, “Is there a clear need for this?” Of course, on the surface, projects are rarely started without some sense of need. However, often that need is not clarified or quantified, and it is rarely measured against the estimated costs in resources such as time, money, and energy. Should circumstances change and resources become limited, the first things to get cut or abandoned are those deemed unnecessary. This often leads to the cancellation of software development projects that should never have been started in the first place.

Poor Preparation

Unfortunately, many times a project is doomed to failure before it even begins due to a lack of preparation. While there are many aspects to preparation, many project sponsors miss the most crucial part, understanding the desired outcome. Without a clear definition of the project scope, the features, the quality required, and measurable benchmarks of time and cost, there is no way the project will be successful.

Vague Project Requirements

A lack of precise project requirements is another aspect of poor preparation and one that often leads to project failure. What will be necessary to complete this project on time and within budget? Without clarity here, there is little chance of identifying the right project manager, programmers, designers, and other resources needed to get this project over the line.

Faulty Estimations

When planning a software development project, it is vital to develop a clear understanding of the budget and timeframe. Unfortunately, there is often a temptation to underestimate the work required to deliver these projects. This can happen when an outside firm is trying to sell its services and can overpromise on deliveries or even internally when stakeholders are trying to get buy-in for their project by overstretching the available budget.

The Wrong Team

While it can be possible to make adjustments as the project progresses, choosing the right team is essential for successful project completion. Likewise, the wrong team makeup can doom a project from the start. Some of the most critical aspects of team composition are team size, expertise and experience in the delivery of similar projects. Creating a team that does not possess the required skillsets can lead to overworked resources, missed deadlines, and growing frustration. Teams that are ill-conceived or not sized correctly will lead to poor communication, a lack of collaboration, and ultimately, project failure.

Constantly Changing Feature Demands

While most teams are prepared for this, every software development project should have contingency built in for change requests that will most definitely be identified along the way. However, sometimes a lack of planning or a poorly written scoping document can lead to excessive requests or requests that fundamentally change the whole composition of the application. When a project begins to experience major change and looks drastically different from the original plan, the decision may eventually have to be made to pull the plug.

Lack of Testing

Sadly, many projects can get quite close to completion and success only to fail due to a lack of proper testing. A thorough user acceptance testing (UAT) phase is a critical part of every project plan as delivering any application with bugs, broken features, or a tendency to crash leads to disgruntled users and can seriously jeopardise any project. A failure at this stage can undermine all the good work carried out by the development team as getting end users back on board after a bad experience can be a very expensive and arduous task.

What does the future of the application hold?

When it comes to software development, it is clear that organisations need a new and more productive path forward when it comes to the successful delivery of their software development projects. As we have already seen, there are many obstacles to the current methodologies that can contribute to the high rate of failure, so it is time therefore for a new approach.

No-code and low-code development platforms have been gaining significant traction in recent years as powerful tools that can assist in the development of web and mobile business applications.  It is estimated that the market value of these no code/low code platforms will grow from $13billion in 2019 to $45billion by 2025 which is a clear indication of the value they present to businesses of all sizes. These rapid application development platforms can enable even non-programmers to develop business applications, saving time and money as well as significantly reducing or even eliminating the risk of failure. Not surprisingly, the COVID crisis has shone the spotlight on these highly flexible platforms with many companies developing applications to assist their employees with the new remote working paradigm.

While conventional application development will continue and remain a staple part for many businesses for the foreseeable future it is clear that no code/low code platforms are here to stay and are helping to accelerate the digital transformation of many businesses across the globe.

ERS IT Solutions have been developing robust software applications for over 20 years and have an impeccable reputation for delivering successful projects on time and on budget. Our newly released Team Konnect Enterprise rapid application development platform is one of the new generations of NO-CODE platforms that enables businesses to create business applications for both web and mobile platforms in days instead of months all without the need for writing any code.

Why not contact us today for a demonstration and see how Team Konnect Enterprise can dramatically increase the successful delivery of your software development projects?

To learn more about how your business can benefit from our Team Konnect Rapid Application Development Platform contact us by email @ demo@teamkonnect.com for a demonstration or call +353 (1) 8859500 and ask for a member of the Team Konnect team.



Colm stafford


Owner and Managing Director of ERS IT Solutions since 1983.Our Team Konnect platform help and assist industries to build their business process solutions in days instead of months reducing the costs and risks associated.

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