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Why plan for failure in project management

Julie Lord

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Unfortunately, no matter how good your project team is and how well planned your project might be there is always the potential that your project might fail. Whilst ultimately the aim of any plans you put in place for a project you are managing should always be for the project to succeed, it is also worth planning for those issues that could lead to your project failing as well. Here, we take a look at the reasons why you should be planning for failures, and how you can work around any issues if you plan correctly.

Be Prepared

There is nothing worse than being unprepared, and whilst it isn’t possible to plan for those unexpected issues that might set your project back, especially those that involve an external source such as a supplier being unable to provide something by a date, there are plenty you can plan for.

Once you have written a plan for your project and know who is working on what and what timeframes each person expects to be able to complete work in you will have a clear idea of how the project should go. Now take a look at it and see what could go wrong and when. These are the things that you want to make a note of. It may be that nearer to the time you will want to make sure that things are going as they should be so that you can adjust other items of the project accordingly. By identifying and noting down these potential problems you may be able to avoid major project failure.


Communication is the single most important aspect of working in a team and when members of your project team do not communicate then it can make things very difficult. You need to ensure that your plan contains plenty of opportunities for the team to get together and discuss the progress of the project. Even if they have been communicating amongst themselves there may be important pieces of information that have been missed out from these discussions and this offers you a good chance to rectify that.

Not all projects are successful

Success of a project is measured in a variety of different ways, and whilst it is true that completing the project with a satisfactory result is not in itself a failure there are several things that can happen along the way that would cause it to be such. If the project overruns, then it could be considered to have not been fully successful. A project that overruns may also run up bigger costs which again may cause it to be classed as an unsuccessful project. The fact is that many projects simply fail so planning for failure is a wise move that any project manager, apprentice or otherwise should be careful to consider.

Planning ahead is a vital part of project management, as well as anticipating those unexpected issues that crop up. This is where you will need to use all your project management skills to ensure you do your best to work around them.


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