6 reasons why software development projects fail

6 reasons why software development projects fail

Back in 2011, a study examining why software development companies continue to struggle to provide their customers with software solutions which meet their requirements was conducted. A few years later, the results, with a surprising 75% of IT executives assuming their project may end in failure, remain an actuality. Nowadays modern technology is used even in small corner shops and automation speeds up the workflow of almost every company in the world, software development companies should thus know all of the possible obstacles upfront in order to painlessly and effortlessly prevent each of them. It turns out that a lack of confidence, or rather faith in the project, is not the only factor which leads software development projects to fail on a daily basis. What are the most common reasons why software projects fail?

software projects

1. Unclear requirements

Gathering requirements is the very first step of the entire process of software development and, at the same time, the first moment where failure becomes a real potential for both parties. The vendor is required to conduct a thorough business analysis in order to determine what you actually need, but you are the one who should specify those needs and express them clearly. At the beginning of the project, customers tend to be so focused on the outcome that they ignore little details which, as becomes obvious later on, are crucial for the entire product. Poorly communicating the problem your company is dealing with and what you think the solution might be will influence the development.


Write down your specific requirements and prepare relevant documents upfront in order to improve the process of business analysis. You can find tips on what to pay attention to during this phase here.

requirements needs

2. Unrealistic expectations

Customers don’t need to know what the process of software development looks like and, more importantly, how long it may last, which is why they usually ask for their project to be delivered as soon as possible, at the lowest cost and highest quality. No matter how unrealistic those expectations are, some companies tend to agree to such requirements as long as they win the project. What follows next is, unsurprisingly, disappointment. After all, money and time play a vital role in the eventual success or failure of a project, which is why committing to poor budgeting and scheduling before all the requirements are gathered and analysed always ends in failure.


If you want your future software to be of good quality, be realistic about the budget and timing. Complex projects take time. If you have a limited budget or simply are in a hurry, choose a payment method that suits you. You can read more about the two most popular of them here.


3. Poor communication

When we talk about effective and seamless communication, we focus on communicating externally with customers, but internal communication between the departments is equally important, especially when they work on the same project. Not having a healthy work environment is another thing which may lead your project to failure because when the team manages to share knowledge and exchange information and ideas openly and willingly, they are more likely to create strong business relationships with their customers. However, rather than assuming things you should ask as many questions as you need in order to fully understand the situation. 


Every misunderstanding may lead to software project failure. You may have no impact on how a software development company communicates internally, but you do however play an active role in building a business relationship. Whenever you feel confused, feel free to ask.

Poor communication

4. No end-user involvement

Your project may seem like a fantastic idea, the development process may go smoothly and yet the outcome still won’t be labelled a success if the end-user involvement was not taken into consideration. When you aim to use the software within your company, it is easy to define what your employees need or simply ask about their expectations, however, if the software is to be used by a third party, remember to never assume anything. The success of your project depends not on the functionalities, no matter how many of them there are or how complex they are, but rather on how easy it is to use the software.


Try to think like a user in order to make sure the solution is user-friendly. As well as this, engaging the right users in the development process may be equally helpful as it allows you to combine your knowledge of the industry and its peculiarities with what users find comfortable and unique about your product.

end-user involvement

5. Lack of flexibility

Even though IT is one of the fastest-growing industries, and the number of tools and methodologies which aim to improve the software development process are getting bigger and bigger every day only proves this, some companies still refuse to change and to, quite literally, go with the flow. While this approach is understandable when a given company has already developed their own workflow, this resistance may sufficiently slow the team down and thus lead to project failure, especially when we take into consideration the fact that only a few projects are accomplished accordingly to primary requirements. Change is inevitable and often advisable to ensure the success of a product.


Depending on how clear your requirements are, you can find a vendor whose workflow suits your project. If you are still struggling to determine your needs, a company using Agile practices should be your choice. You can find more on different software development methodologies here

IT flexibility

6. Poor testing

When a software development company struggles to deliver the product on time, it’s always the testing that suffers. Tests are performed in a hurry and thus inaccurately, which results in a product filled with bugs which are not necessarily detected right away. One of the best practices which ensure customer satisfaction is to enable customer experience testing. That way, a software development company knows not only that the end product is bugless, but more importantly that the client is comfortable with the software.  Additionally, it cuts the time you most probably will have to spend on learning how to use it.


If you know your product is complex, go Agile. This methodology assures testing is carried out regularly throughout the development lifecycle and not at its end. If there is a possibility of taking part in testing yourself, take it.

agile testing

Given the complexity of modern software solutions, difficulties which software developers struggle with on a daily basis do not surprise anyone. However, they can all be avoided if a company develops their own workflow and carefully follows it. Your active participation in the development process also reduces the risk of failure. My best advice is to, again, never assume anything and find an experienced and qualified vendor. If you are looking for a bespoke software company, feel free to contact us

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