All of us have participated in projects that have not gone as smoothly as we had hoped. Most of us will probably experience failed projects again in our lives because failure is part of the learning process both for individuals and organizations. However, not learning from mistakes and repeated patterns will cause projects to fail time and time again. Below are three ways to help ensure success in the future.
1. Have an accurate schedule that is upheld and/or modified as needed, within reason. Project architects should understand all of the moving parts involved in a project, who the key actors are and how long each task should take. Project architects should not be the random person in the office who is “volun-told” to make a schedule for a multi-million dollar project.
Even after a company invests in a project architect who builds a near-perfect schedule, it is up to the project manager to review all of the moving pieces to confirm that it is reasonable and executable at this moment in time. Maybe a key player is going on a three-month sabbatical; maybe there is a major holiday or business event or there may even be an anticipated lay off; all of these should be accounted for in the schedule.
Even after the schedule is “perfect” (at that moment in time), it needs to be followed, reviewed and revised on a regular basis. The project schedule is your blueprint to success.
2. The project triangle (time/scope/money) is a rule. The project triangle of time, scope and money constrains every project. If money is decreased, scope and time are decreased. If scope is increased, money and time increase. The project triangle shifts whenever a change occurs to any one of the three factors. This rule always applies , even to management.
If management wants to spend less money, they must be willing to make sacrifices, and those sacrifices must be articulated to re-calibrate expectations, which will also reset project success measurements. Having effective change management and contingency plans will help assuage these changes to the project triangle, but they will not alleviate all signs of change. Companies must be willing to accept these trade-offs.
3. Don’t be the project hero. Whenever a project is near failure, there is almost always someone who has had very passive participation in a project yet steps in at the eleventh hour to try and save the project.
Behind their backs, these people are called, “Project Heroes.” Project heroes, in effect, serve no purpose other than to annoy everyone who has been working diligently on a project for a very long time. Project heroes get in everyone’s way by demanding updates and asking questions that they would have had answers to had they been meaningfully participating in the project from the start.
Don’t be a project hero. Be the person who always shows up on time, has his homework done, can be relied upon and leads through example. Strong work ethic from management has tremendous flow-down results for employees.
Learn more by downloading our white paper, Ten Tips for a Successful ERP Implementation.
Written by Annalynn Evenstad, Associate General Counsel & Contracting Department Manager at Panorama Consulting Solutions.