Everyone has been there. Unfortunately projects, programs, and sometimes entire initiatives fail. As opposed to the normal first reaction of finding someone to blame, what is needed is immediate action. Here are some common symptoms that cause projects to fail:
- Scope is increasing rapidly causing both the cost to increase and the project to slide.
- The users are unhappy with the systems performance or there are too many bugs.
- Risks that were never imagined are slowing the progress.
- The project sponsor or other executives are not engaged.
- The customer is not helping define the solution or they are not using it.
However, failing projects are only symptoms of larger problems in the organization that need to be fixed and these are rarely the real issues. Root causes are more likely:
- The concept of the product being built does not match the company goals.
- There are unrealistic deadlines or budgetary constraints placed on the project.
- The company is over their head and trying to do projects that too complex for their skillsets.
- Leadership does not understand how they need to support the project.
- The project is trying to address non-project issues, such as maintenance and executives do not understand the issue.
What Can Be Done
Irreconcilable differences. When all else fails, some troubled proejct end up in litigation. When legal means are the only course to recover your damages for a failed project. Be it by court trial or arbitration, you want the best on your side. Using the same techniques as in our Project Audit and Recovery services, we quickly pore over your contracts, statements of work, change orders, emails, deliverables, and other discoverable items to assess your liability, assist you and your council on strategy and exposure, develop an expert report, and testify on those findings. Our successful track record speaks for itself. We objectively determine why your project failed and use that data to help build your case..
A vision is just a dream without a strategy to implement it. The act of strategic planning helps define what you plan to do, your target customers, and where you are going. It takes into account the opportunities, threats, bumps, and risks that may be encountered in your journey to turn your vision into value. The result is a set of clearly defined strategic goals, an action plan to achieve them, and a risk mitigation plan. For start-ups, a highly-adaptive plan may cover one to two years, while for mature companies it may span three to five years is more appropriate. This five- to ten-page document, however, must be clear, concise, and easy to understand by your stakeholders and shareholders.
Whether an investor, a member of your senior staff, or an employee, everyone should be able to identify how the strategy relates to him or her. Aligning and prioritizing your initiatives, projects, finances, people, and other assets to the strategic goals is a critical next step in ensuring that your vision can be realized in the quickest and most profitable manner. Only through rigorous planning, alignment, and adoption will you achieve your goals.
eCameron the breadth and depth of experience with companies of all sizes, from start-ups to billion dollar corporations, and a wide range of industries to assist with building your strategy and maintaining alignment.
A project's destiny is set very early, often at the inception phase long before the project even starts. The definition and setup of project governance to ensure your projects are properly defined and monitored throughout the project lifecycle is critical. WIthout it the incidence of project fialure skyrockets.
Having the appropriate level of governance and oversight based on the size and complexity of the projects you run is always a challenge. Unfortunately previous project performance, especially troubled projects, has a huge influence on level and degree of governance. The more failures the more governance; the more governance the more bureaucracy and the lower the agility. eCameron has extensive experience with projects complexit, company size, project scope, and company culture. We can help you balance the governance with your company's culture and its people.
A project's destiny is set very early, often before the project even starts. A properly run project launch is the first opportunity when all of the key project stakeholders are gathered and can identify and correct issues. Critical to the kickoff's and project's success is having the right stakeholders reviewing and agreeing to the project approach, risks, and mitigations. Without this short alignment workshop the incident of project failure is much higher.
Project Launch Benefits Include:
- Set up the project for the best chance of success.
- Define the proper project approach through prototyping solutions.
- Identify and vet major project risks.
- Assess mitigation strategies.
- Determine contingency requirements.
- Attain consensus on roles and responsibilities.
Prior to signing any contract or statement of work (SOW) it should be reviewed by your legal team. While legal experts understand legalities that will helpful in court, they are not delivery experts who can determine whether a SOW will provide you with the product that you anticipate, need, and desire. This review will analyze the scope, methodology, deliverables, and proposed cost to identify for areas that point to weaknesses in the ability to deliver or misalignment in intentions that could result in project failure.
SOW Review Benefits:
- Demystify the SOW.
- Get more value from your subcontractor.
- Minimize risk and vulnerability.
- Save money by avoiding risk.
- Eliminate ambiguity.
- Understand and resolve the gaps between the contract and SOW.
- Identify what is missing that should be added.
- Proactive, Preventative, Productive.
Tired of doing the same thing and expecting the different results? The goal of a properly run retrospective is to do more of the good things and fewer of the bad. Even well run projects have lessons that we can learn. Preforming a retrospective on a project allows you to capture the highs and lows of a project and integrate that information into a library for others to use.
The lessons could be about handling risk, a new process for you company, allocation of resources, or a multitude of other data. Without discussing and capturing that item, you are left to reinvent this wheel or stumble in the same hole in the future. Objectivity, experience, and an unbiased perspective are key for conducting a value-laden retrospective that solves problems instead of looking for blame, and that complements team work over the individual hero. It takes an experienced outsider who is removed from the history and politics to see the issues and make the recommendations that will maximize the lessons learned.
Plans are nothing without the ability to implement them. People are paramount. Ninety-eight percent of the people in a company are focused on running the daily sales, marketing, manufacturing, finance, IT, product delivery, and so forth--in other words "their day job." They neither have the time and often do not have inclination to drive the implementation of a new plan. New plans require bringing in temporary staff and sometimes new full-time skills to ensure the new goals are met in a timely manner.
Second to people, the right level of process is needed; however, too many organizations rely on process as the Holy Grail. Process needs to provide structure without bureaucracy. It must be agile enough to enable a team to quickly deliver critical capabilities yet adaptable to the inevitable adjustments as the business climates change.
Finally, and only after people and process, the focus turns to technology. It is only a tool to make the right people and processes more effective and efficient.
At eCameron, we live by the credo - people, process, and then technology all aligned to your strategy.
Process is at the core of any business. It makes work predictable, repeatable, and transferable. Without it we cannot scale our businesses. However, process can be a bane to making progress. Processes that work for a $10 million company have difficulties supporting a $30 million company. Trying to scale them to a $300 million company will not only fail but not address the issues that larger companies have that were never dreamt of in a smaller organization. Processes need to be discarded, revamped, and built—all of that without creating an overburdening bureaucracy.
Anytime you need to go someplace, you first have to know where you are. Processes are never static and your company's current state is probably far from where you think it is. Hence, the first step is mapping out you company's current state followed by defining the future state. This is more than a logical map of the process; it must also include physical maps. Whether your process is solely to provide a service (say, website development) or physical (say, manufacturing) there are logistical issues that complicate the process flow. Without fully understanding those nuances, future state processes will not reach the desired efficiencies.
For more information about process mapping fill out the form to the left and we will get in touch with you.