Project Methodologies and Project Failure
Reading an article the other day, the author was lamenting on how Project Managers were under educated and needed to know more about earned values analysis, risk probability determination, finite schedule development and other tools that make a Project Manager great. She was arguing that certifications, like PMI's PMP® certification, needed to have more testing on those subjects.
Months ago, maybe over a year, now, I was blasted for talking about innovation in the context of information technology (IT) projects. The gist of the complaint was that all IT folks think they are building some new groundbreaking, revolutionary application that requires the latest in technology's tools. I agreed with his argument, qualifying that although this seems to be a pervasive theme, IT is a discipline that needs to keep one-foot in the pioneering frontier. Regardless, I had to concede that many innovative initiatives are more about a technician playing with some new toy. Jobs like implementing ERP interfaces to manufacturing execution systems (MES) only sound new. Unfortunately, I must say, "been there done that." Most IT is neither new of innovative. To avoid squandering funds, executives must understand and direct what needs to be innovative and permeate the company's culture with that knowledge. Otherwise, the wasted time and expense will suck a company dry.
A failing project’s fate is destined long before assigning a project manager. Its doom is sealed from the time the customer envisions the idea. Traditionally, project inception is defined as when the customer comes to a solution provider (internal or external to their organization) asking for a product or service. In actuality inception is much earlier. It starts when someone says, “Wouldn’t be neat if I could...” From that point forward the customer’s exceptions are set, changed, and reset as the process of discovery refines the concept. The customer’s ideas change from what they want to what they need, while continually constrained and formed by the realities of an ever-changing business environment. Although people cite unrealistic expectations as major problem during inception, the constant change in expectations causes the real issue—misalignment. For project managers to make a significant difference in a project’s success, they must use a new paradig.
Conflict resolution is a major part of recovering red projects. The solutions range from firing the bastards to analyzing where the sources of conflicts are and determining a more friendly way to resolve them. I have to admit, when stepping into a project where the estimate at completion is a couple million dollars over the budget, everyone is pointing fingers, and the customer is screaming the supplier is in default, replacing people is sometimes the best option. So much so, my kids occasionally refer to me as 'hatch.'
A couple Friday's ago, I was in a meeting and I reiterated my mantra, "Process stifles creativity." A friend, well, I think she still is, nearly jumped out of her chair. "I need to correct you," she barked, "Only poorly implemented process stifle creativity." The suddenness and passion in her response caused the gentleman sitting between us to slide his chair back quickly in order to avoid being tangled in any physical altercation. The room was full of jeers for us to settle the dispute in the parking lot. Realizing I had just stepped in a hornet's nest, I made a joke of it. However, her attack does not dissuade me.
|Author:||Todd C. Williams|
|Released:||March 20, 2011|
Amazon #1 Bestseller in Business and Technical Project Management!
Back from the brink... the first fail-safe recovery plan for turning around troubled projects and keeping the problems from reoccurring.
When budgets are dwindling, deadlines passing, and tempers flaring, the usual response is to browbeat the project team and point fingers of blame. Not helpful. For these situations, what is needed is an objective process for accurately assessing what is wrong and a clear plan of action for fixing the problem.
In Rescue the Problem Project, Todd Williams, President of eCameron, describes how projects go wrong and what to do to fix them. It focuses first on people, then process, and finally technology. By doing this it helps you find the root cause of the failure and helps you prevent it from happening again.
Estimates are a pain in the... er... butt. Everyone hates doing them. The reason? They are always wrong. They are either too optimistic, when we think we know more than we do, or they are overly padded, trying to account for the unexpected. Other times it is much more subconscious. Some little voice in the back of our heads is working on our conscience to change the perception of the work required. We can be our own worst enemies when it comes to creating estimates and do even more harm when we go to work the task. For now, let us look at a couple factors that influence how we determine the length of time it takes to do simple tasks and save the effects of that estimate for another article. With a little audience cooperation, we will produce a fun answer from a simple mental exercise.
Most projects do not fail for the problems on the project; they fail for the problems in the organizations associated with them. Even issues within the project are usually personnel related requiring the project manager to do more counseling than managing. So where does the project manager get these skills? Unfortunately, they come from experience; few come from formal training. Instead, project managers get training on process, which, as can be seen in many of my articles, is misguided. Project managers need to spend more time developing the organizations, making them stronger. Without doing extensive organization development, projects will continue to fail.
|Released:||November 19, 2003|
This book is currently under review, more details will be added when available
The publisher says:
Do you want to gain business benefits, achieve project objectives, and maximize opportunities? With step-by-step guidelines, this book unveils a revolutionary approach to the management of project opportunities by expanding the traditional risk management process to address opportunities alongside threats-offering valuable tools and techniques that expose and capture opportunities, minimize threats, and deal effectively with all types of uncertainty in your business and projects.
|Publisher:||American Management Association|
|Publication date||1st Ed. February 2003
2nd Ed. January 2009
3rd Ed. March 2015
As the title implies, this book discusses identifying and managing risks on projects. Although the book is written in a very generic manner, it has a decidedly high-tech flavor. This partly due to the fact that the author worked at Hewlett-Packard for twelve years.
Kendrick's coverage of risk, or more correctly uncertainty, is complete in a general sense focusing a majority of his discussion on risk in projects due to poor planning and change management processes. Two chapters of the book deal with quantifying risk, but the math is kept simple as he recommends using commercial products to the brunt of the work.