5 Main Causes Of Project Delay In IT Industry And How To Avoid Them

Editorial Team

project delay causes and how to avoid

IT industry is a complex industry, and so, the relative projects are complex as well. Such complex projects need to be handled with great efficiency and activeness. These projects are prone to delays due to different challenging situations and issues. This is the sole responsibility of the project manager to ensure that the goals and objectives of the project are by the main parameters of the IT industry.

A good project manager makes sure that all the delays, along with their causes and solutions, are identified beforehand. This helps with the on-time implementation of solution plans to make sure that the delays do not hinder the project tasks and project deliverables meet the deadlines.

1. Unexpected Risks

No project comes without risks. The projects in the IT industry face a number of risks, especially technical risks. As a project manager is aware of the fact that there must be several risks, constraints, and challenges lying in the way, the issues the command to identify all those potential risks. A project manager himself must be highly involved in the project. With years of experience in the IT industry, he must know all the potential risks already.

Due to less involvement of the project manager, there can arise some unexpected risks that were not identified as potential risks. These unexpected risks can cause great damage to the entire project. With a single risk, all the effort spent on the project can go to waste. These unexpected risk might be a new demand from the project stakeholders, running out of technical staff or unavailability of efficient tools to handle problems right at the moment.

How To Avoid: Draw Estimations For The Known As Well As Unknown Risks

Now, how to prepare for these unexpected risks? As unexpected risks never knock before they enter, unlike that of potential risks, they are more challenging to deal with. However, if the project manager belongs to the IT industry, he must be able to identify the magnitude of these unexpected risks right when they appear. This can help with an effective solution to such risks.

The thing is to stay prepared so that effective solutions can be drawn and implemented to make sure that these unexpected risks go away as soon as possible. The preparation lies in drawing estimations for the known as well as unknown risks using the right approaches, tools, and techniques in the initial phases of the project.

When the estimations are rightly drawn, the right solutions can be extracted. Thus, the best way to deal with unexpected risks is beforehand estimations. At times, these estimations are for some other purpose, but suit well to the unexpectedly occurred risks and challenges.

Hence, staying up ready with estimations is a good thing.

2. Inaccurate Estimates For Project Requirements

According to a report by the Project Management Institute (PMI), 39% of projects fail due to inaccurate estimates when it comes to project requirements. When you do not have all the important requirements recognized and documented, it is impossible to achieve the goals and objectives of the project.

With even a single improper requirement, the whole project can be delayed. A single improper requirement has the potential to affect all the other requirements and ultimately, the project.

Improper requirements often come in the way when project stakeholders and sponsors do not consider it their responsibility to work on requirements part effectively. It depends on the stakeholders and sponsors, whether it is clear to the project manager that what is required and expected out of the project.

When project stakeholders and sponsors do their job, the next responsibility is of the project manager to draw accurate estimates of the project requirements, formulate the project goals and objectives accordingly, and ensure that the team has a clear understanding of the project requirements. When this process goes wrong, the project delays.

How To Avoid: Involve The Experts From Every Department To Come Up With Solid Project Requirements

The best way to cater to this cause of project delay is to ensure that all the concerned departments are included in coming up with solid project requirements. To ease the process, specify one expert from each department such as development team, financial department, technical department, and resource department, etc. to act as the representative.

Then, these experts must hold a meeting with project sponsors and stakeholders to understand their requirements professionally. When each concerned department is clear of what is expected from it, a proper project charter can be developed that includes these requirements and shapes the goals and activities accordingly.

Thus, involvement is the key to ensure that accurate estimation are drawn when project requirements are the matter.

3. Unengaged Project Sponsors And Stakeholders

The biggest cause of project delay can be less involvement and gap of communication between project workers and project stakeholders and sponsors. Usually, the important project documents are not communicated to project stakeholders and sponsors on time. This gives them no chance to review the activities of the project. Later, when they review or get to know about something that took place weeks ago, they might not find it accurate.

This especially happens in the IT industry as programs can be credited as wrong anytime. Or maybe some single element in the software is not developed as was expected. This results in a delay of the project as the problem has to be corrected and works needs to be done from the start all over again.

This issue arises when project sponsors and stakeholders are left unengaged. Due to the absence of a representative or a team of representatives between the project team and project stakeholders and sponsors, miscommunication or delayed communication takes place, which in return causes the project to delay.

How To Avoid: Encourage High-Quality Participation In The Project

The most efficient way to get rid of this cause is to encourage high-quality participation of project stakeholders and sponsors in the project. Relevant and important information should be communicated to project sponsors and stakeholders on time. Important project documents should be shared. Meetings should be conducted.

The best approach is to develop a Project Stakeholder Engagement Plan. It takes care of all the important aspects that contribute towards healthy participation of project stakeholders/sponsors in the project. Project Stakeholder Engagement Plan includes the following:

  • All the relevant approaches and strategies which can be adopted to encourage the participation of project stakeholders and sponsors throughout the project.
  • All the tools and techniques that can be used to check whether project stakeholders and sponsors are as much involved in the project as much they must be.
  • A separate team of representatives that perform the job of effective communication between the project team, project stakeholders, and sponsors.

All of these steps help in high-quality participation in the project. Also, it helps in developing a healthy working relationship between the project team and project stakeholders and sponsors. In this way, there are minimum chances that project stakeholders and sponsors are left unengaged, or they are unhappy with project activities and project deliverables.

4. Inadequate Resources

Inadequate resources, both human and material, are most of the time a big cause of project delay.

The people, as well as the materials required to complete the work, are both counted as project resources. If even one of these is not sufficient, the project cannot be completed on time.

A project manager must know at the start of the project if the number of people in his team is enough to carry on the project and finish it in time. Most of the times, many people are less, and the time specified for the project is even lesser. According to PMI, 22% of the project fails due to inadequate human resources.

At other times, there is less budget to get enough material to carry all the project tasks properly. Also, if the resources are not enough to meet the project scope, the project is again delayed. This shows that it can be measured whether the resources are adequate or not by measuring them against the timeframe, budget, and scope of the project.

If the result comes negative, this means there is surely going to be a delay in the project.

How To Avoid: Make Sure The Resources Are By Timeframe, Scope, And Budget Of The Project

The only way to ensure that inadequate resources are not the cause of any delay in the project is to draw a good estimation of resources in comparison with timeframe, scope, and budget. When all of these aspects are relatively measured, they can be brought in conformation with each other. Especially, the resources must be by the timeframe, scope, and budget of the project.

If resources cannot be brought by timeframe, scope, and budget of the project, another great is an idea to render one of these elements as a little flexible. For example, if the timeframe cannot be expanded, shorten the project scope. And if you have to deliver full scope within a certain time limit, increase the project budget so that more resources can be bought.

The thing is to plan in a way that none of these elements become a constraint and leads to project delay or ultimately, project failure.

5. Dependency Delays

For big and complex IT projects, there are a number of teams and departments working on it. Most of the time, these teams and departments are interconnected and dependent on each other for different tasks and services.

When you are dependent on some other team/department for some tasks, your success and failure depend on their success and failure, respectively. If they fail to deliver on time, so will you. This throws the project completely off the track resulting in delays.

According to PMI, 23% of projects fail due to dependency delays. The saddest part is that you can control and take the burden of the on-time task completion of all the other teams and departments i.e., entire organizations on your shoulders alone. You are not solely responsible for ensuring that all the different team and departments are working on the same page. And so when they fail, you have to suffer as well.

This also happens due to the lack of interaction between different teams and departments. Due to the absence of a proper plan and schedule to get all the teams and departments incoherence, delays happen. This can be categorized as one of the potential risks, but it is so broad that it had to be discussed as a separate cause of project delay.

How To Avoid: Make A Flexible Schedule That Incorporates Such Delays

The most efficient way to make sure that the project is not delayed due to interdependencies is to come up with a flexible schedule that includes enough time and space to incorporate such delays. It can be done by setting up more than one deadlines for the project tasks. Then, the schedule must be developed in a way that the tasks are completed before the last deadline. When all of the tasks are completed before the last deadline, there remains enough time to handle the delays if they happen.

A significant part of this schedule must be the meetings and effective communication among all the teams and departments to promote interaction. With interaction comes a shared sense of responsibilities. This is a healthy way to make the whole organization efficient enough. It helps the project gets done on time without any delays.

Moreover, it mitigates many different risks that may occur due to dependency delays. When those risks are addressed even before they take place, there is no chance that the project is delayed. 


Therefore, these are the five main causes of project delay in IT industry. Each cause of the delay is presented with an effective solution above. If these solutions are considered positively and implemented properly, the project can run successfully without any delays. This makes the entire project go well throughout.