6 reasons why software development projects fail

Software projects often fail due to unclear requirements, unrealistic expectations, poor communication, no end-user involvement, lack of flexibility, and poor testing practices.

In 2011, a study examined why software development companies continue to struggle to provide their customers with software solutions that meet their requirements was conducted. A few years later, the results remain actual, with a surprising 75% of IT executives assuming their project may fail. Modern technology is used even in small corner shops, and automation speeds up the workflow of almost every company worldwide. Software development companies should thus know all the possible obstacles upfront to painlessly and effortlessly prevent each. It turns out that a lack of confidence or faith in the project is not the only factor leading software development projects to fail daily. What are the most common reasons why software projects fail?

1. Unclear requirements

Gathering requirements is the first step of the entire software development process and, simultaneously, the first moment when failure becomes a real potential for both parties. The vendor is required to conduct a thorough business analysis to determine what you 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 apparent 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 to improve the business analysis process. You can find tips on what to pay attention to during this phase here.

2. Unrealistic expectations

Customers don’t need to know what the software development process 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 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 a project’s eventual success or failure, which is why committing to poor budgeting and scheduling before all the requirements are gathered and analysed always fails.


If you want your future software quality, be realistic about the budget and timing. Complex projects take time. If you have a limited budget or 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 discussing effective and seamless communication, we focus on communicating externally with customers, but internal communication between the departments is equally essential, primarily 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 necessary to understand the situation.


Every misunderstanding may lead to software project failure. You may not impact how a software development company communicates internally, but you actively build a business relationship. Whenever you feel confused, feel free to ask.

4. No end-user involvement

Your project may seem like a fantastic idea, the development process may go smoothly, and yet the outcome won’t be labelled a success if the end-user involvement is not considered. When you aim to use the software within your company, it is easy to define what your employees need or ask about their expectations. However, if the software is to be used by a third party, remember never to 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 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.

5. Lack of flexibility

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


Depending on how precise 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.

6. Poor testing

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


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

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

Contact us.

If you need a partner in software development, we're here to help you.

We will respond to your enquiry immediately.