Project start in most of the cases seems so brightful and carefree — the team is involved, the customer is excited to work, the deadlines are far away from you. Yet project initiation is also the stage where most of the mistakes happen. This article covers the common Project Managers' mistakes that answer a question - why software projects fail.

This article will be useful for you if you face such problems in your project:

  • Your managers/executives are not satisfied with your projects’ performance;
  • Your customers complain that there is not enough transparency on what your team delivers;
  • Your team is about to burn out and everyone wants to change this damn project to a “stable” one;
  • You make a huge effort to wake up and go to the office, and you dream about vacation or even firing every morning.

Do you want to make things worse or ruin everything? Here are 10 tips for ruining the project, breaking off the relationship with the customer and make a real hell for your team:

DO NOT focus on crucial things such a strategy and KPIs

DO NOT focus on crucial things such a strategy and KPIs


Instead of spending time on the project objectives, just drown yourself in routine tasks and do your best at micromanaging. And don’t delegate your tasks to anyone.

Who cares about project KPI’s and how to reach these indicators? It’s redundant.

Don’t plan your day and don’t designate your task priorities. You don’t want to spend much time on your working day planning. It’s easier to react spontaneously to every situation. Just over time, work more and stay at the office till 10 pm day by day. After several months you are going to burn out and probably you’ll get to know the reason for down-shifting.

DO NOT involve your customer to the project discussions and features acceptance

Your team works hard on the project but for some reasons, they don’t involve a customer (to the task result acceptance). There is no need to disturb our customer. Well, we tried to ask our customer to approve the task on slack once. It feels like he/she is really busy. Let your team decide whether you’ve developed the product that business needs or not. Let the customer check everything two days before the deadline and return 90% of the work for your revision. And the whole team would play their favorite game called “overtime and lack of sleep”. Product development is supposed to be a hardcore thing, isn’t it?


DO NOT work on the working processes or only one of the sides should follow them

Invent problem-solving processes but never monitor their execution. There isn't necessary to get your team members to give feedback on what they think about the regulations and are they good with it. Processes meant to work without any controls and check-ups. Just write document by document and expect high-performance results.

One of the cases, when the dev team strictly follows the processes, however, the business team never heard about them. You risk facing conflict situations every day.

It’s one of the most devastating problems in projects. In one of our projects we worked so hard with the whole team — spent weekends working at the office and made this project our lives’ main priority. But the customer wasn’t happy with the result. We used a lot of different practices and developed complex product delivering flows. Later on, we finally got that the project manager didn’t explain development processes to the customer and the business team. That’s where the root of the team’s out of sync.


DO NOT monitor the project’s quality

Sacrifice quality because the velocity is the only one and the most important indicator of a team’s competency. Do not check the product your team develops and ask nobody to test it. You should trust your doers without a doubt. QA department and autotests are for weak teams. It’s totally fine we have bugs in production. Let’s fix them there. Wait till your users’ would give feedback and your end-users would be tired of it.

DO NOT plan your tasks properly

You shouldn't pay attention to the tasks planning. Just multiple the estimation a developer gives you to two. If you are skilled and experienced, PM multiple it to three. It is unnecessary to detail Epics to tasks. No need to puzzle out what we should do in fact and ask customers questions about the details that affect deadlines.


DO NOT analyze expected risks and your own or your colleagues’ previous fails

All of your projects are different and there are no two exactly the same ones in the world. Furthermore, there is not even a chance to understand what’s wrong with your style of management. Don’t try to think about what you could’ve improved. It’s much easier to consider that your customer is just not SMART enough. Blame others in your projects’ failures and spend your whole time and energy to prove it.

Yesterday’s problem is Today’a risk. Remember it and don’t consider Today’s risk it’s Tomorrow problem.

DO NOT ask dumb questions and DO NOT mention potential problems. DO NOT ask help your mentors

The secret of a balanced life is that you shouldn’t attract others’ attention to your project problems. Please don’t do it! At the moment, you mention the problem you are automatically becoming an assignee of how to solve this problem. You don’t want it to happen, right?

Don’t ask your mentors to give you advice. Their experience would not help you because they didn’t face the problems you do. By the way:

  • Don’t think about possible troubles;
  • Never mention a problem if you don’t have a solution for it. Better to hide it;
  • Don’t define anything as a problem till you prove it;
  • Don’t burden your executives/team by talking about problems;
  • Don’t talk about problems if you don’t want to be responsible for their solutions.

DO NOT communicate with your team about the common goal and cheer the team’s conflicts

Manager’s mission is to assign as many tasks as possible to each developer during the planning session. Don’t discuss retrospectives and a plan of how to improve delivery processes or anything else. As an alternative you can gather the whole team for a meeting without a specific plan and goals — it’s a great chance to waste the team’s time in vain.

Do confront each other and it shows your team’s relationship maturity. Honestly, it won’t last long because conflicts are going to kill your aspiration to work with the team very soon.

DO NOT make meeting notes

The best way to lose a project in a short time is to talk a lot with each and everyone without any resolutions and notes. No need to synchronize the whole team on the upcoming goals and deadlines.


Were you ever in a situation when some of the misunderstandings that have led your product to a broken production? And after that, the whole team has fun and tries to snuff the fire out on production. It sounds like a cool weekend, doesn’t it?

DO NOT consider priorities and immediately approve every refinement that your customer ask

The key factor of success is a client-oriented approach to business. That’s why you shouldn’t upset your customer. So if a customer asks you to add ten more features two days before the DEMO does not explain to him/her, it could affect the quality of a product. Always accept every request no matter what. In addition, convince your customer you would do all your best and would deliver every of ten features. It’s the right way to lose your customer’s expectations and loyalty.

Now, seriously... Let’s conclude

You always would have a chance to give up and try something else. But how about to pull yourself together and make a plan to save your project.

The hardest thing on the way to a project’s rescue is to accept you have problems. You can try to run away from them. But it couldn’t last forever. We all know that according to the probability theory with every new problem your chance to be saved is constantly decreasing.

Try to identify the problems I’ve listed here. When you get WHAT to fix, think about HOW to do it. Ask senior level specialists to help or google the same cases, I bet your case is not unique.

What’s important in fixing your problems is to do it constantly. It’s so hard to not give up halfway.

There are tons of tools and techniques that will help you to develop the habit. One of them our Mad Flow based on Jira and you could find more information about it the link below:


Set up a project once and forever. Well, nobody told management is going to be easy)

Be patient and result oriented. I wish you all the best and, please, follow balanced work and lifestyles.

IT Consulting.
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