Statistics show that a lot of projects fail one way or another. If you read this article, you will know that a huge percentage of attempted projects do fail for one reason or another :
From my point of view, the most critical phase of all projects is the Analysis phase. This is the phase in which the project scope should be defined. All needed details should be 100% clear and understood. This is the phase that most people miss or underestimate. Projects fail because project managers don’t give this phase enough care and attention.
Mostly you find people rushing into commiting to deadlines and delivery dates and even deliverables that they discover later on that they were not studied enough. And this is why they miss their dates and discover that they can’t deliver what they promised.
Amazing enough I met some managers who even committed to delivery dates with their customers before they studied their needs at all. I had a manager once who promised to deliver an application to a customer and signed a contract and then passed the customer on to me to start the project. After doing the analysis phase I found out a lot of details and complex requirements that proved that the project needs double the agreed upon time frame. Of course there was no way to convince the customer after the hasty manager committed and the project became problematic from day one. The customer was not satisfied although we delivered a great application, but he considered it late delivery. So rushing into committing to dates without really knowing the scope causes the project to be a failure even before it starts, whatever you do after that the customer will never be happy.
Often miss-communication during this phase also causes a lot of problems. Customers claim you promised something and you claim you meant something else. This is why everything has to be written crystal clear and explained in detail in several meetings to make sure all parties are speaking the same language. Managing customer expectations is the keyword! make sure the customer knows exactly what to expect from you to avoid conflicts.
This is why analysis phase has to be the longest phase of the project lifetime, not the shortest as most managers do!
Analysis phase is the building block for any project. Know every single detail, define the scope clearly, manage your customer expectations very well during this phase and make all agreements written to avoid surprises later on and be sure your project will be a success.