How to rescue a failing software project

How to rescue a failing software project

There are many reasons why plans and projects fail, but in the world of software development, this can sometimes be more complex in that it can be more difficult to fix mistakes and save a project. It is possible but it requires certain knowledge, patience, and motivation to rescue and complete a project instead of abandoning it. If you see that your software development project might fail, evaluate your decisions and processes, learn from these mistakes and get your project back on track. Begin with figuring out the reason why your project has got to this certain point. You can find a few of the most common reasons below.

Disappearing partner

A very common scenario in failed development projects is the key developer leaving. Sometimes external partners disappear from the market or go out of business. Maybe a key consultant decided to exit the project or your internal key developer decides to resign from the position. It can be easily avoided in the very beginning of the project by double or even triple checking the external partner and making a conscious decision about who to trust.

Conflicting opinions

It is impossible to collaborate if there is conflict or tension building under the surface of the collaboration. There could be a disagreement from a previous project or many people having differing views or ideas. It is easy to start blaming one another when the project is falling behind with deadlines or functionalities. However, if this is the case the project does not have a chance to be successful or even be completed.

Low quality software and code

Having low quality software is a very common reason why software development projects fail. Systems may be poorly designed with crucial issues or not implemented properly. This often happens when the external software company was not vetted properly or the price was prioritised over quality. Many low-cost and fast-delivery promises end up being of poor quality and do little to satisfy customer needs. The same is true of a low quality of code. It should be transparent and be able to be modified and maintained.

These are just the basic problems that sometimes become the reasons for failure in projects and you should always double check your project and partner. For more reasons why software development projects fail, check out this article. When you see the early indications that your project may fail in the future do everything in your power to rescue it. Below you can find four basic activities that make up a typical rescue plan.


The starting point for you, after noticing that there is something going wrong, should be checking the existing source code. It should be done precisely to minimise errors and to be sure that the quality is high. Also, questions concerning other issues should be asked. What does the documentation look like and is it complete? Are there the necessary databases? What does the current situation look like? Evaluate the whole work and draw conclusions.

Dependency evaluation

Another important part of rescuing the project is understanding any dependencies within the source code. A previous developer could make a mistake or program an inappropriate response. Dependency issues may include third-party libraries that require licensing, proprietary software or even specific user agreements with previous developers, which can limit the work and performance in the future.

Source code support

Every IT partner in rescuing the project should provide you with support in servicing the existing source code. You should pay attention to this fact during the process of choosing a partner. Your IT supplier should fix all the bugs and, in case the source code is lost or broken, bring back missing lines or rebuild it so that it is possible to work on it again. Sometimes modernisation of source code is necessary and it looks different every time. Sometimes it is enough to turn old databases to maximum performance and sometimes it is necessary to replace the old source code with a new one.


This part should also be included in the contract between you and your IT software development partner. Maintenance is important both during the repair process and after the project is back on track. It is important to keep the software updated with new technology. Over time you may need to add features, fix errors or replace old source codes with new ones. Maintenance from a professional partner can be vital for the whole software solution and the whole project.

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