I’ve been involved in hundreds of successful project management initiatives over my career. I’ve been the leader, sponsor or team member, which means that each time I had different responsibilities.
What they all had in common was the desire to get the project approved quickly and easily, with the right resources of people, time and money.
There are many reasons why projects fail and I’ve experienced many of them over my career! The one project that stands out in my memory is unfortunately not my best, but one that demonstrates everything that can go wrong! It happened just after I got a new boss. That in itself is not always easy, but our working relationship was made more difficult when he gave me his pet project to run.
My team had the necessary skills to see the project through, but it was not the most adapted to their experience nor preferences. As if that wasn’t bad enough, my new boss obliged us to work with his preferred supplier without running an RFP. (request for proposal)
I didn’t have a very good opinion of the supplier, as not only were they far more expensive than most of the other agencies, but in addition they always seemed to mess things up! It was much later that I learned that the supplier had a particular relationship with my boss, who was receiving a share of every project paid.
The day of the presentation arrives. The supplier has ordered champagne and a huge cake decorated with the names of his company and ours. He is anticipating a successful outcome that we will celebrate together. However, there was no celebration.
You see, his company made a basic mistake in their calculations. The same one in fact as they had made the year before! My boss didn’t tell me about it and the supplier clearly forgot about the previous year’s incident.
Could the project have been a success? Of course it could. If we had followed the seven-step roadmap I am going to share with you now.
Why projects fail
But before sharing how to succeed I want to discuss why projects fail.
According to research undertaken by Forrester, 70% of projects fail! Even the highly rated IBM consultants fail 60% of the time. Only 2.5% of companies successfully complete all their projects! So why do so few succeed and so many fail?
Another piece of research, this time from Workamajig, shows that more than a third of IT projects fail due to changes in objectives or inaccurate gathering of requirements. More than a quarter fail because of an inadequate vision, or risk assessment, poor communications, budget estimates or other lack of resources. All of these should be covered in the primary planning phase of a project, which clearly shows poor change management.
There are many reasons why projects fail; I like to summarise them as the 3Ps:
Planning, or to be more precise, a lack thereof. We all know … Click to continue reading