Project Success Does Not Come Easily

Consider this...a project is temporary, has unique goals to meet, and many different tasks to manage, delegate and coordinate.  Sometimes those tasks run across functional departments and across very diverse organizations, and hopefully have critical impact on a business, organization, industry or customer…depending on the project, of course.

Globally, companies invest billions of dollars annually on IT solutions. In addition, many organizations offer visionary solutions that all call for knowledgeable project managers to plan, execute, control, and end projects ahead of any competition. Sadly, many of these projects come in behind schedule and over budget, and fail. Much of our project management lives are spent dealing with these unsettling projects and working to get them back on schedule, both within budget and within specification. Many projects are canceled before they are ever completed and many exceed their original estimates. The financial costs of these 

failures and overruns are just the tip of the iceberg. The path of destruction left behind from these projects is devastated budgets, unhappy customers, and sometimes ruined project management careers.

Success comes hard

On the success side, it is commonly cited that more than 50% of all projects fail to some degree.  They may be considered a failure by some stakeholders based on one or more of the three key project success determiners:  on time delivery, on budget delivery, and customer satisfaction.  Some studies suggest that less than 20% of projects are completed on time AND on budget. In the larger organizations, the news is even worse: studies have shown that less than 10% of projects in large companies come in on time AND on budget. And, even when these projects do limp through to completion, they are often no more than mere shadows of their original functional requirements.

Today, when project managers take on a project, they must face the reality that many clients are increasingly aware of how projects must align with business processes and strategy. As a result, these clients expect project managers to be able to translate their requirements into effective implementations. Project managers must be prepared to take charge of the engagement, lead their team through project kickoff and ask the right questions to gain a set of detailed and complete requirements to build a solution upon, and be strong leaders to keep the project customer engaged and contributing to the success of the project.  

Summary / call for input

The bottom line is this….success is always in question on projects.  In fact, it’s almost assumed that a compromised solution will be delivered.  As project managers, we must take this as a challenge to over perform and over deliver and motivate our project teams to do the same.  Today, more than ever, we are expected to do more with less and use diverse skill sets to deliver on high-tech projects that are often groundbreaking and career boosting in nature.  We must always be focusing on best practices, focus on what the customer needs (not just what they want), and be the strong leader and confident decision-maker that the project, team and customer needs.

Readers...please share your own thoughts on the difficulties of project success and any tips you have learned to follow.


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