Education is the First Step in Reducing Project Failure
People often fail to realize how many actions in work and our personal lives rely on negotiation. It could be negotiating a raise, setting up conditions about using a resource, determining a task's scope, or adjusting a delivery date. We do some form of negotiation daily. Even though we learn to negotiate at just about the same time that we learn to communicate, we rarely understand the science and art behind it. By establishing a process around negotiation, we maximize our chances for success. A process ensures that we understand the wants and needs of the person on the other side of the table.
Daily, we are involved in two acts—developing and following process and negotiating with stakeholders. We cannot escape them; they are part of the project management experience. Processes are required to maintain consistency, accuracy, and abide by regulations. Negotiation is required to create a valuable solution that meets the triple constraints.
To deal with the reality of business, you need a toolbox of techniques that can address the needs of the people who supply and consume information and the competing interests of stakeholders.
eCameron took a serious look at project sponsorship by conducting a series on non-scientific interviews. Initially the focus was the healthcare industry. As patterns started to emerge, however, others outside of that industry expressed serious interest. To address that interest and better understand the larger issue we expanded the interviews to outside healthcare. Candid and confidential interviews were conducted with project related personnel including executives, sponsors, project managers, and Project Management Office (PMO) managers. In summary:
- Sponsorship is an issue in all business domains.
- Good sponsorship is an essential component in creating successful projects.
- Many issues are pervasive across industries.
- Sponsors need to work with project managers to design a successful project outcome.
- Sponsor roles are neither properly defined nor supported.
This white paper presents the results of the research and highlights areas where organizations need to improve to change their project success rates.
Value: Rather than scope, schedule, and budget, value is the lynch-pin of project success. Although the former three constraints are key factors in project success, there is no guarantee that meeting these constraints will result in a positive outcome. Instead constantly tracking the value of the project and making adjustments to the triple constraints to attain sufficient value is critical. Arguably this is the project managers most critical deliverable in the project. It requires significant insight into the project’s customer and a thorough understanding of their needs versus their wants. Project managers have to be leaders (leading subordinates, leaders, and customers), be able to assign priorities based on a critical, objective view.
Project management has been accepted in many businesses as a discipline critical for continued growth. To improve project performance, companies have levied rules on how projects should be run, defined common reporting requirements for all projects, and pooled and shared their project management resources. Even with these functions, projects still struggle to meet the needs of the customer. In order to improve project outcomes, the way in which they are managed must change. Project managers must become leaders, paying more attention to soft skills, managing their stakeholders, and identifying solutions to organizational issues that are limiting project success. The following paper discusses techniques developed by the author to address these needs and improve project success rates.
Project success rates for many companies and government organizations are dismally low, yet executives never seem to look at the big picture. They continue to make adjustments in the way projects are run by addressing isolated problems. However, projects are part of a much larger system and should be addressed in that context. To do that, companies must define how their strategic plan will use people, projects, and technology to achieve their goals. This paper discusses one approach to make this happen.
Nothing starts your day worse than waking up to a CNN News crew on your front porch. That is what happened with Cover Oregon (Oregon’s failed HIX implementation). Now, with multiple lawsuits filed, only time will tell who the real losers are. One thing is for sure—there will be no winners. With all the contracts, audit reports, and court documents in the public domain there is no better time to learn.
Change is difficult. And, even if we can get people to change, will it stick? How about ropes, chains, whips, ropes, blindfolds, watermelons, and elastic bands in a fun G-rated presentation that get the audience on their feet and acting the roles that they may think is hindering them from change.
A failing project’s fate is destined long before assigning a project manager. Its doom is sealed from the time the customer envisions the idea. Traditionally, project inception is defined as when the customer comes to a solution provider (internal or external to their organization) asking for a product or service. In actuality inception is much earlier. It starts when someone says, “Wouldn’t be neat if I could...” From that point forward the customer’s exceptions are set, changed, and reset as the process of discovery refines the concept. The customer’s ideas change from what they want to what they need, while continually constrained and formed by the realities of an ever-changing business environment. Although people cite unrealistic expectations as major problem during inception, the constant change in expectations causes the real issue—misalignment. For project managers to make a significant difference in a project’s success, they must use a new paradig.
"Our Changes just don't stick!" That is the cry of too many executives exasperated by the waste of resources trying to get people in their organization to adopt new processes. A major portion of the reason is the lack of an organization change management (OCM) mentality in the organization. This is no more apparent than in the method in which initiatives and their constituent projects are executed. Lack of end-user involvement and adoption accountability are at the core of this failure.