8 Key Take Away Lessons from a Failed Project

Project failures are not very uncommon and there’s something to learn even from failed projects. The lessons learnt from a bad project will put a lot of things in perspective to help an organization move forward with its next projects, and ensure greater success. It is important to evaluate the processes of a failed project and determine valuable lessons formally, so as to make sure that the same mistakes are not repeated in future, or in any other project.

Proper evaluation can stimulate the right changes in a particular project, thereby leading to its successful completion. Instead of getting stressed and letting the opportunity to learn from mistakes slip out of hand, it is important for all team members to make the most of their experiences and emerge fool proof in their upcoming projects. Given below are some commonly learnt lessons from project failures:

Understanding Weak Areas

A careful examination of the areas and aspects of the project that faced obstacles need a careful analysis. Accordingly, team members need to be trained for handling them in better ways in future. After the determination of the areas in which they fell short, project managers can conceive and implement appropriate measures for their improvisation.

Select Team Members carefully

Many a times, a project’s failure can be attributed to the shortcomings of certain team members. If one or more team members do not possess some essential characteristics, then a project might not achieve its desired goals. Thus, an in-depth evaluation of team members and their re-appointment to create a new team with specific skills is crucial for the success of a project. 


Lack of strategic processes might lead to failures. It’s important to take a closer look at project organization and make a new strategy that will ensure successful execution.

Project Budgeting

Poor budgeting can affect project execution. Therefore, a proper assessment is needed for figuring out if the project had incurred more costs than those possible within the approved budget and how to curtail them in future. Similarly, it should be checked if there was any lack of funding that led to project failure. In either case, proper budgeting is a must and should be done in advance for all future projects.

Setting Reasonable Project Goals

It is essential to check if the initially set project objectives look unachievable with the company’s available resources. If yes, then during the next project planning stage, appropriate project goals (that are easily achievable within the means of the company) should be set to guarantee higher success rates.

Setting Realistic Milestones

It’s good to evaluate specific project goals that were left unachieved. This will enable the project manager to assess those particular project objectives that acted as restraints in making the project attain desired results. For instance, if timeline issues were the cause of failure, then from the next project onwards, realistic project milestones should be set to give the team members enough time to perform efficiently.

Last Minute Requirements

A project may fail if additional features or changes are asked for in their completion stage. It is important to understand that new project features affect the scope, cost and timelines of the entire project. Attending to   last-moment requirements/changes might lead to over-exceeding budgets and require employees to work over-time. However, none of these additions guarantee desired results and may lead to further disappointments. The key lesson to be learnt here is that change management should be implemented in the early stages of project development, and not towards its fag end.

Scrutinize each Project Stage

Every stage of the project should be re-examined. This will help in determining those aspects of the project that were successful and the same can be applied in future ones as well. At most times, employees learn new skills or tactics from a failed project and implement them in their new assignments to gain enhanced levels of efficiency.

At the time of the next project execution, the lessons learnt from a previous failed project should be communicated to all team members. The analysis made by project managers from their recent failures should become a part of enterprise knowledge, and help team members overcome similar issues in future.

All the best!

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Uma Daga