Have you ever seen the Project Canvas Framework, developed by renowned author and speaker Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez? It’s based on the premise that every project, regardless of the industry, organisation, sector, or even whether it’s personal or professional, is composed of exactly the same elements which determine whether the project is a success or a failure.
Want to know what it looks like? Let’s examine it in light of the top 10 reasons why projects fail.
- Getting the ‘Why’ wrong
Nieto-Rodriguez says that a clear purpose for your project in terms of rationale and business case must be defined and agreed. Many times, we accelerate into a project with the team unaligned.
- Getting the ’Who’ wrong
The executive sponsor is the ultimate accountable figure for the project. We must ask, is this person committed and available for the duration of the project? Often, this element is overlooked, and furthermore, they are unable to define responsibilities for the project and where the buck stops. Vague lines of responsibility leave team members unaccountable and therefore less committed to their allocation.
- Losing the balance of the project scope
The Iron Triangle, which consists of the project’s scope with respect to quality, time and costs, can be completely disproportionate if not carefully considered. Speeding the project timeline will adversely affect the quality if more resources are not allocated to meet the timeline. These elements are tightly interrelated.
- Becoming too rigid on the project plan
In the planning stage, project managers must scenario plan for possible outcomes which are often undesirable. These contingencies are part of the risk management planning for the project. Have all the key risks been identified? Do you have a viable Plan B that all stakeholders agree upon?
- Poor contractor management
A large part of Plan B is tapping into external resources at varying degrees. Good supplier relationships are paramount. However, for your project, having contractor agreements in place that will allow for variations is vital to remaining agile and responsive to project success.
- Total mismatch of skills to project tasks
For precise allocation of resources to tasks, an examination of skillsets by individuals who are both available and qualify with the right certificates and client requests cannot be underestimated towards the success of your project.
- Not applying a personal approach to project resources
Careful consideration of project resource allocation is a common mistake project managers make. Visibility over their working hours, requests for annual leave and other leave, and nuances that might affect their ability or motivation to visit a client site, must be made available (usually through sophisticated project management software). Who is available on Saturdays? Is there an acceptance for over time? How do we respect their wishes? Do we know when they have applied for annual leave or other leave? Do we have complete visibility over their circumstances such as health issues or aversion to client sites due to past experiences?
- Clients are left in the dark about the project progress
Project managers often get entrenched into the project, forgetting to update the client in the frequencies with which they like. Apart from client relationship building and good interpersonal skills, expert project managers learn to involve clients as resources on projects, giving them tasks to complete and approve, and making them an active participant in the success of the project. Good project management software allows for client views of project progress, leaving client interactions to be focused on bigger picture discussions and risk mitigations where changes are needed.
- The Goal Posts keep moving
Change management is a reality of any project. At the heart of change management is good communication with all parties involved. Projects often halt or are forced on hold when dependencies cause delays to corresponding tasks. At the core of good communication are effective channels that work for people involved, where some people might need lengthy emails explaining the context of the changes occurring, or others may only require a short message with implications of the change to that individual. Ensure that you have good project management software that can auto-create notifications for majority of workers on your project, leaving you time to craft lengthier communications to those with more at stake.
- No drive for success
A lack of a culture of success can be an underlying problem for many project failures. Organisations that drive motivation for success throughout the culture, priorities, and the structure of the place, pays itself in dividends. Building competencies for project management is also vital to project success.
Ultimately, it’s the planning of a project and the regular check-ins to determine the health of the project throughout its lifecycle, that will keep the project on the track to success.
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