Top Four Key Categories of Project Failure

Every year, big companies invest millions of dollars in many of their strategic projects with several key objectives in mind: Business Expansion, Portfolio Diversification, Improvement in Product Marketing and many more…

Not all of these projects ultimately get launched successfully, some were on hold because of some specific reason, while some just didn’t get to deploy successfully, while many of them were staggered into sub-projects which will be deployed by phases with different deployment dates.

At high level, Projects failures can be categorized into 4 great category,
a. ) Poor planning:
-The key to any project success ( regardless of its size, its budget and for which regions ) is good planning. Good planning helps minimize potential risks, reduce last minute changes, and avoid any miss dependency. One of the key item in project planning is Risk management. With a well out-lined plan, issues and risks get mitigated significantly with alternative work-arounds ready to take care of the issues while the long term solution is on its way.

Here are some sign of poor planned projects,
1. Major gaps remained to be unresolved
2. Key stakeholders have no active participation in the project
3. Too frequent changes in the scope, Business requirements can’t be finalized.
4. Multiple revises in project Time lines
5. Lack of Test and Development Resources

b.) Lack of Management support:
-A project will only be successful if there are strong support from Management in terms of financial support and Resource support. If without, Projects will suffer from one or more of the following areas:
-Inadequate skills and inappropriate Staffing – Lack of team members with the necessary skills to run the projects in the Organization ; however, Management do not see the need for additional staffing.
– Lack of financial support – Management will invest their money in projects where they believe higher return will be reaped. Lack of budget resources will somehow forced the project to stop sooner or later.

c) Poor project management:

A lot of key projects were found to fail due to Poor and Bad project management. These may be caused by :
– The scope and objectives of these projects have not being defined properly and the process are not comprehensive enough to take care of all the details.
– The required testing resources from other functional teams have not being engaged earlier ; same goes to the testing environment
– Miss out a few key requirements during the development phase. This last minute miss caused the project to slip its key milestones.
– No dedicated Business owners to sign off for the user acceptance testing

d) Lack of Key Business engagement for the project:

Business Leads and end users are not keen to get engaged and participate in the projects
– due to this limitation, not all Business process has being validated and reviewed by the appropriate Business leads/Subject Matter Expert ( SME) as per requested. This might lead to potential over-look of gaps in any of the Business process with the new changes implemented for the Project.
– It is imperative to have all the necessary players to be fully committed and engaged in the project throughout , namely the Business, IT team as well as the project stake-holders.

Using a Project Management Software Application to Manage Your Projects

Businesses today are looking to achieve their organizational goals without unnecessary expenditures. The increase in the number of project time tracking solutions is on the rise since they help businesses to deal with the complexities of large projects.

Businesses have started implementing time management solutions so as to get a complete organizational view of projects. This helps them to decide which projects are important, making the entire process efficient.

  • Helps in more efficient planning of the projects –

The move from the ideas stage to planning is more structured with the right project management tools. Project managers have better visibility and consequently they are better informed during decision making. During the planning stage when resources are being allocated a quality project time tracking software can help decision-makers sift easily through business metrics. The overall efficiency of the project and people performance improve significantly as a result.

  • Better execution of projects –

Project time management solutions ensure better project execution overall, by balancing resource management, staffing, budgets, and setting milestones. There is clarity on the activities of employees/resources down to a granular depth and as a result thereby tracking employee time off, attendance and work hours becomes far more accurate.

All these efficiencies come through seamlessly once the software solution is integrated into the business processes.

From determining strategic business goals to deciding which projects will help meet those goals and then efficiently managing the execution of the projects… the right project management tool offers a business tremendous value.

  • A quick snapshot of the benefits gained from such time management software solutions is as follows -Defines metrics to help measure what projects should be undertaken
  • Seamlessly integrates the business so that executives can view projects across the organization.
  • Standardizes methods to execute business goals
  • Provides a better understanding of employee talent management (resources)

The evolution of technology has ensured that a project manager today is better equipped to make more qualified decisions, since the overall goal of a good project management software solution is to make the whole process more efficient both in terms of human resource allocation and time. Not being efficient in either of these can be detrimental to an organization’s health and overall well being. Companies can ill-afford the hazards of such a scenario.

Therefore, I believe that a project time tracking and management software definitely helps your businesses to run effectively and meet your organizational goals anytime needed.

Business Process Vs Project Management Process

All attendees of “Project Management… by the Numbers” know that every project is a project within another project(!). In other words, every project we manage is a part of another bigger project. So, what is the difference between a business process and a project management process?

Let’s begin the answer with an example…

The CEO of the organization believes the project is to bring a new product to market. Let us call the product the Wireless Internet Waffle Iron (WiWi).

The CEO knows he/she has a process to get the WiWi though his company. This includes identifying the best possible WiWi and all the way to sustaining the WiWi when it is sold to the consumer.

The company has a published plan based on stages for this process (for example; Stage 1 – Ideation, Stage 2 – Assessment, Stage 3 – Feasibility, Stage 4 – Development, Stage 5 – Commercialization, Stage 6 – Sustainment), in order to get the WiWi from one stage to another.

Most often, the process progresses by passing the responsibility of the project from one group to the next along the way of each stage. It does make sense that Engineering manages the conceptual work and Marketing manages the marketing.

Because of this process, the CEO passes the project to his direct reports with confidence that the project can now be managed on time, on budget and that the Wireless Internet Waffle Iron will be exactly as envisioned.

Working with my clients, I have identified this scenario hundreds times over the years and it is easy to recognize this as a “business process” as this is how the business (company) views the work as a project.

Now, back to our scenario…

The WiWi project is running behind schedule because the assessment stage took longer than planned and the project is running over budget because the feasibility stage was not properly analyzed up front. Now you (the next project manager in line) have been assigned the development stage and are expected to bring the project back on time and schedule as well as manage all the work the development stage requires.

All this time the CEO continues to have confidence in his people and processes that the WiWi project will be on time, cost and objectives. You are backed in the corner with this (can’t let the CEO down) and have to cut corners as they did during the feasibility stage.

After some major frustration, a few all-nighters and some creative reporting, you breathe a sigh of relief and can pass the project with all of its problems to the next group in the process line. Unfortunately, the WiWi is still over budget and running even later.

What we have described above is a classic business process that is mistaken for a project management process. The difference is that the business process sees the product as the project, not the stages or even the tasks as individual projects.

Business processes are absolutely necessary for management to plan and work from, but if we view each stage and task as a project, and the leader of each stage and the doer of each task as a project manager, then we will have an accountability chain within the project. Back to our scenario… but this time as a Project Management Process.

The Four Phases of a Project Management Process…

Phase One – Concept/Feasibility

The WiWi has been dropped into the business process by the CEO. The person that is leading the Ideation Stage must consider this stage a project within itself, and themselves as the Project Manager.

Ideation is a part of the WiWi project, but has its own separate time, cost and objectives. These must be defined and agreed to by the Ideation Phase Project Manager and a Project Customer (maybe the Project Customer has to be the CEO!).

Before agreement can happen, the Ideation Stage Project Manager has to be convinced his/her part of the WiWi Project can be accomplished within the time, cost and objective constraints given. In order to determine the true TCO vs. the goal TCO, each member of the Ideation Project Team must view their tasks as projects with themselves as the Task Project Manager and the Ideation Stage Project Manager as their Project Customer. Each person then follows the same project management process to gain agreement that their tasks can be accomplished to the individual time cost and objective constraints given.

When the entire team agrees all tasks can be done based on individual concept/feasibility studies, agreement can be reached or negotiated between the Ideation Stage Project Manager and the WiWi Project Manager.

Wahoo – Phase 1 done!

Phase Two – Organization/Schedule

The Ideation Stage Project Manager now has agreement at a high level to TCO of the Ideation Stage, so it is time now to do detailed planning and scheduling of the Ideation Stage Project of the WiWi Project.

After reconfirming tasks and team members schedules, a critical path analysis is completed by the Ideation Phase Project Manager (including detailed costs) and run by the Ideation Phase Project Customer for another agreement and:

Phase Three – Execution

Double Wahoo – It’s time to actually do all the Ideation Stage tasks.

The Ideation Stage Project Manager manages the critical path tasks, people and budget, and in turn delivers the Ideation Stage Project to the Project Customer.

The Ideation Stage is almost complete (not quite, but almost) because:

Phase Four – Review/Audit

Now it is time to review the project management during the Ideation Stage Project. Did we do enough concept/feasibility? Did the team members follow-through on their promises? How can we improve the project management process? Etc.

Your part of the WiWi Project, the Ideation Stage Project, has been successfully managed by using a project management process. I think a party is now in order, don’t you?

So, back to our original question: What is the Difference between a Business Process and a Project Management Process?

The answer: The difference is that the business process sees the product as the project, not the stages or even the tasks as individual projects.

We as everyday project managers are responsible for the successful completion of the time, cost and objectives of our piece of the Wireless Internet Waffle Iron Project, not the whole thing.

If you are the CEO (or the CEO’s designated authority) and want the WiWi on time, on cost and on objectives, then consider each stage within the business process a project and allow the project management process to work.

But for now, back to us, the Project Managers. When you get your assignment, whether it is a stage or a task, ask who your Project Customer is and stick to the four project management phases of your specific work.

Understanding the Concept of Business

Many think of loads of money when hearing or saying the word business, but one has to be aware that are profitable and nonprofitable businesses. Therefore, understanding what this concept involves is important because it helps you decide whether you are made for this or not.

Once you get acquainted with the notions related to running a business you can be more confident. It doesn’t have to be a “C-Cola” type of business, small businesses can be financially satisfactory as well. If the specific lingo scares you with terms like cash flow, profit/loss statements,debt-to-equity ratio or accounts receivable don’t be fooled. Small/business ownership is not that complicated as it seems. You will be surprised to find out that you are already familiar with some of the meanings. Have you ever been paid for a musical performance, performed services like baby-sitting, lawn-mowing? Then you have been involved in small businesses.

Being a small-business owner gives you the liberty to choose the work program as you think it is best for your business. Some successful small-business owners work 40 hours a week, whereas others work part-time.

A small business can be born out of the blue, when you are sitting under a tree on a hot summer day and thinking about a glass of cold lemonade. The you realize that this could use for some other too and you come up with the idea of selling lemonade. There is no lemonade stand in sight, therefore no competition. An untapped market is an important aspect to start from.

Next, you start asking the neighbors if they’re willing to buy lemonade from you. This way you discover whether the quality, service and location of your projected business are appealing to many or few customers.

Let’s say that the “market research” you have conducted has been positive. A step further is to choose the location of your business. Maybe the street where you live isn’t as crowded as you might want to. To maximize sales you look for a street with enough traffic. You decide to move the stand on the corner down the road, in front of Mrs. X’s house. You convince her to grant you the permission to set up there by offering a free glass of lemonade every day. This “move” represents your first lease and the first experience of bartering.

After all these steps have been completed, you name your business, build your stand, prepare the lemonade and obtain the necessary elements of the “store” (the cash box; a table-the furniture; a pitcher-the fixture. You may want to talk with a friend or your parents to help you with the capital.

These challenges you are about to face when starting a small business are the same that a large company copes with every day. The basics of running the business are the same.