To be honest, this might be better titled, What to do to reduce the risk of projects failing. It’s a very brief summary in response to the interesting work done by the International project leadership academy.
If the organisation’s requirements are not defined accurately and in full, then there is no hope of a successful conclusion. The main problem is that the person tasked with defining the organisation’s requirements is unable to distinguish between what the interviewees want, what the interviewees think the organisation wants, and what the organisation actually needs.
> The coaching conversation
> Scope creep
Poor management and leadership skills in the manager and/or submanagers inevitably result in poor performance.
If the sponsor, the project manager and the submanagers lack sufficient leadership qualities, most of the causes of failures will duly follow. This is because a failure to harness the talents, knowledge, experience of everyone in the team will create many opportunities for problems to arise
> What do managers who are leaders do that managers who aren’t leaders don’t do
> Twelve precepts of leadership
> Principles of leadership
It’s probably the case that no project has ever existed in which there has been adequate communication. Failure to keep everyone informed will mean, as above, an inability to harness the talents, knowledge, experience of everyone in the team.
Worse, misinformation and misunderstanding become rife in the absence of communication.
Good communication is important for morale and for creating a real feeling of engagement.
> Twelve principles of effective communication
Projects can fail simply because they were poorly or carelessly thought through and/or poorly defined (lack of detail, lack of realism, lack of understanding).
This is down to a mixture of getting the requirements wrong, communicating poorly (so not enough people have the opportunity to alert the manger of problems they anticipate) and inadequate planning (where thorough planning may well have revealed inconsistencies and omissions).
By and large, projects do not fail to conform to the plan: the plan turns out to be an inaccurate prediction of the future. No planner can accurately predict what is going to happen, particularly on projects that are months or even years long; no planner can accurately estimate the duration of every task. The best that can be done is to use as much experience of similar projects in the past to get a plan that is probably close – and then add some contingency.
Even if the project was defined well, the plan may be unrealistic. Either because it was poorly planned and/or was ‘set up to fail’ (under-resourced, plan too optimistic). Worse, if the project manager is ‘leant on’ by senior people in the organisation at the planning stage and cannot resist the pressure or, alternatively, exhibits a fatal desire to please, it doesn’t matter how well the team works, ultimately it will deliver the wrong thing, probably in the wrong way, and tears will ensue.
Scope creep is where the manager permits changes to their requirements because needs are identified during the project that should have been bottomed out at the setup stage. It is a recipe for problems, as it uses up contingency (which shouldn’t be there for this sort of problem), results in delays and increases in costs, and often generates a lot of stress which is seriously detrimental to people.
> 101 common causes of project failure [International project leadership academy website]
by Jeremy Marchant . © 2016 Jeremy Marchant Limited . uploaded 22 march 2016 . image: Free images
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