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Project warning signs

7 Early project warning signs to look out for

It’s true, there’s a certain level of unpredictability with all projects, but eventual failure is something that can actually be predicted quite early on. The key is to recognise the warning signs as early as possible to give you and your team the opportunity to do some damage control to potentially save the situation.


Here at Analyze, we’ve come up with the following list of 7 early warning signs to look out for:


  • There’s no project champion
    A project champion is someone, preferably from top management, who has both the authority and the resources to keep a project moving forward. They are the “hype man” for the project, always promoting the project objectives & benefits, bragging about project milestones achieved, creating general excitement for what’s to come.  Without a champion, achieving the right level of support for your project to be a success is realistically impossible.
  • People are losing sight of the project goals
    Once people start blindly performing tasks without understanding why, you have a serious problem. It’s important that all team members remain focused on the end goals and understand how important their role is in achieving these goals.  Without this focus, project outcomes will end up completely missing the mark and your project will no doubt be deemed a failure.
  • Project details are a bit hazy
    The project scope and business case are two of the most important artifacts any project needs in order to survive, yet a lot of projects rush through these in order to get going with what is deemed as the more important tasks. But what they’re not understanding is that if these are not clearly defined and understood upfront, it will have a knock-on effect on the effectiveness of your project planning and the ability to define project completion and success.
  • There’s a general culture of change-resistance
    Projects usually aim to bring about process improvements or new products and/or services. For the business, this is exciting, but for the employees this can lead to fear and uncertainty if there’s a concern that they will either no longer be needed or that their way of working will significantly change.  If this resistance to change is something that’s not going to go away, it spells doom for your project no matter how well it’s executed.
  • The project team lacks experience
    A lot of project challenges, issues and crisis situations will require a project manager and his or her project team to tap into previous experience to come up with possible solutions. If the project manager and / or team is still new in terms of work experience, you’re facing a very risky situation.  There should at least be a good mix of seasoned talent versus up-and-coming talent in order to create coaching or learnership situations if the right level of experience isn’t available to fill all project roles.
  • There is poor (or a complete lack of) stakeholder involvement
    Project stakeholders or sponsors are those people who support the project by ensuring that funding & resources are available, conflicts can easily be resolved, critical project needs can be escalated and project and programme managers have someone to turn to in times of need. If they are largely unavailable or seem to have a lack of interest in the project, your project will start off on the wrong foot and likely stay there for the duration thereof.
  • Power struggles and personal agendas rule the day
    When power struggles and personal agendas start taking over, it means that everyone is out for themselves and nobody really cares about the overall success of the project. If your project team does not represent a unified front, they will cause the project more harm than good.  Splinter groups, strategic alliances and lone rangers will lead to chaos and competing agendas which in turn will have a very negative impact on your ability to reach project goals.


Do you have a project that’s showing any of these warning signs?  We can help to get things back on track.  Give us a call on 021 447 5696 or email to discuss consulting options to suit your needs.

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