Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar iconNot recorded
Adobe PDF icon

Avoid Failed Projects: Prevention is Better Than Cure

~ By Duncan Haughey

Way to success and avoiding failure concept on a blackboard

The biggest problems that projects face are inadequate definition, scope and planning. How many projects have you worked on that ran perfectly; met your customers' expectations and delivered on time and budget? You might be able to think of a couple but can probably remember more that didn't go so well.

Many projects end successfully, some fail, but most end somewhere in between. Often we miss one of the key measures; you've gone past a deadline, exceeded the budget or not fully met customer expectations. The easiest way to avoid this is to ensure the project has a good definition, scope and plan before you start.

Set Expectations Early

It's not uncommon to hear the phrase, we should have spent more time planning during end project meetings. It's tempting when given a new project to start the work. Always avoid this rookie mistake. Before your project begins, you must make sure there is an agreed definition, scope and plan. The trick is to ensure that all your stakeholders have the same view, and they understand:

  • What you will deliver
  • How much it will cost
  • When you will deliver it
  • What the benefits will be
  • How you will approach the work

It's essential you communicate this before the project starts, to avoid different viewpoints and expectations later. If stakeholders don't have time to talk to you (so you can develop a shared understanding) it's best not to start - after all, how important can the project be?

Review Budgets and Timelines

Budgets and timelines often get set before a project manager is involved. If you start work before setting the definition, scope and creating a plan, you won't realise until it's too late, that you have an inadequate budget and an unrealistic timescale. Never commit to the numbers until you have completed the definition, scope and plan.

Know the Scope

The only way to manage scope is to know what it is before the project starts. If you don't define the scope before you begin, it's impossible to control it throughout the project, and you will become a victim of dreaded scope creep.

Define the Project

Before you start any project work, make sure you have identified the project goals, objectives, benefits, scope, risks, issues, budget, timescale and approach. Communicate this to all the stakeholders and get their agreement. Resolve any differences of opinion before the project starts.

Create the Plan

The easiest way to assess the budget and timescale needed for the project is to create a project plan, with all the tasks mapped out and resources assigned before you start. Don't start without the required resources, or on a promise of them later.

Remember, prevention is better than cure. Without a definition and plan, you risk scope creep, different views and expectations of stakeholders and a painful project experience.


Comments

Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
2000
Enter the last letter of the word model.
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

Is Your Project Proposal READY?

Businessman saying: Are you ready in retro style pop art

The mnemonic READY is useful when creating a project proposal. It will help you produce a project proposal that's difficult to ignore.

Project Management Checklists

Checklist

Checklists are underused in the planning and managing of projects. Here is a high level twelve-point checklist for use during project planning.

Is Project Management Certification Worth It?

University students in a classroom watching a presentation

Do recognised professional credentials increase your worth in the jobs market? Will the effort of studying to pass the exam improve your career prospects?

Project Management Process Groups Explained

Project management process group icons on a curved line

Project management processes consist of five process groups and a control system used to apply knowledge and skills to a project. This article provides a breakdown of what's involved.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

Amie Genabia commented on…
Use Your Whole Brain: Leveraging Right-Brained Thinking in a Left-Brained World
- Tue 14 July 3:07pm

Nick Wilson commented on…
Writing a Funding Proposal
- Mon 13 July 4:29pm

Masha commented on…
5 Tips for Successful Projects
- Sun 12 July 12:31am

Latest tweets

General Project Management • How to choose the right requirements management tool for managing projects? https://t.co/dRu4cVISvv about 1 day ago

General Project Management • Re: Student System Migration Project https://t.co/A6PPzF2G0p about 1 day ago

General Project Management • Student System Migration Project https://t.co/6hGzzlI479 about 2 days ago