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Who is responsible for project failure?

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I'm wondering: when a project fails, who is the person responsible for the project failure (in other words, who is the person that causes project failure)? Is this person the project manager?

Another question, regardless of responsibility, who is usually the person who is blamed for project failure (e.g. the scapegoat)?

Please discusss!
asked 9 years ago by anonymous

1 Answer

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Many (almost all of them project managers) may say that the person responsible for project failure is the client. Some may say it's the stakeholders. Some blame the project failure on the methodology. Some even blame it on the project team or a project team member.

I say that if you dig, you always find out that the main person behind project failure is the project manager... Here's how:

- If they're saying that the project failed because of the client: Usually by that they mean that the client had an endless barrage of changes and was not clear on his initial requirements. My answer to this is the following:
    - Why didn't the project manager use change requests to control changes?
    - Why did the project manager accept all the changes if he knew they will lead the project to failure?
    - Why wasn't the project manager thorough when he collected the requirements? Why did he rely only on the client (who's always busy and who doesn't know exactly what he wants) to collect the requirements? Why didn't he try to understand the business of the client in order to understand what the real requirements are?

- If they're saying that the project failed because of the stakeholders: This means that the stakeholders also had some endless changes that should've been controlled but were not controlled by the project manager. Additionally, the project manager should've managed the expectations of the stakeholders (so that they will be able to know what they can ask for and what they cannot ask for).

- If they're saying that the project failed because of the methodology: What? Who chose the methodology? And even if it wasn't the project manager who chose the methodology, then why did the project manager agree to work on a methodology that wasn't true and tested in his environment (and if the methodology was indeed true and tested, then this means that the project failed because of the project manager's incompetence, and not because of the methodology).

- If they're saying that the project failed because of the project team: Nobody can blame the project team for project failure. If the project team was incompetent, then why did you (the project manager) commit to the project anyway? Why did you commit to something you knew that your project team cannot execute.

As you can see from the above, the real person behind project failure is the project manager, and that, my friend, is a fact!
answered 9 years ago by MaplePM (46,940 points)

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