Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Project Success not Project Politics

Consider the following:

At least 4.5 Billion dollars a year are spent on IT and Software Development projects alone. Depending on which reports you read, between 15 and 30 percent of IT projects are complete failures. That is a complete waste of between 675 million and 1.35 billion dollars annually. That’s just IT and Software Development Projects!

Also consider that another 10-20 percent of all projects are only somewhat successful and fail to achieve the desired outcome of the intended project. That’s an additional loss of somewhere between 225 to 900 million depending on how you calculate and measure the actual success of those projects.

These are staggering numbers especially when you consider that most of this waste could be avoided by skilled Project Management. Why most of the waste? There can always be circumstances beyond the control of a Project Manager or a Project Management team to control or avoid.

Things like a single source of knowledge, other resource constraints, budget constraints, or schedule constraints. Technological limits or capabilities can even play a role in the success or failure of a project along with many other items! A skilled Project Manager can and should identify these risks and even make stakeholders acutely aware of the risks but often they do not have the position, power or influence to completely avoid these pitfalls or kill the project.

Politics in companies, just like in our government, is responsible for much of this waste. Another major contributor is a lack of Project Managers with the strength of their conviction in their skill and ability. A good project manager is not someone who provides status to management and executives after the fact, that’s not even their job! A good Project Manager is the one who provides the forecast and probability of success for a project, based on the facts, before it begins in earnest. The true responsibility of the project ultimately lies with the stakeholder but make no mistake, the project manager takes the heat most of the time for these failures.

Some advice is this:

If you believe you are in a no win project and have empirical data to back up your forecast and probability matrix, then appeal to a higher court now. Go beyond your stakeholder or stakeholders if possible, spread the word and make everyone aware of your research. It may be the only way to preserve your job and your career. If you end up losing your job for doing the right thing, I apologize, but I offer you this, you’re better off without those who would ignore the data!

Provide some feedback; I’d love to hear other thoughts on this!

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