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Achieving Results with Project Management – Part 2

Poorly defined scope

This often means that the scope was understated, and that the scope of the project and the project plan are superficial and fail to state both what the project needs to deliver, and the resources needed to deliver it.

Project staff, who are often team members, then discover the hidden but essential components later on in the project.  This additional work that is now necessary, takes the project out of control, causing delay to the original schedule and over spending against the original budget.

Poor communications

Many projects fail because of communication breakdown which can originate from lack of clarity in the various roles and responsibilities coupled with poor senior management attitudes – for example not wanting to hear bad news

Unrealistic resourcing

Let me be clear here, I’m talking about resources of all types: people, materials, equipment, facilities and so on.  It just is not possible to carry out a project one meeting the required scope when there are insufficient resources to carry out the project work in order to create the deliverables

Unrealistic timescales

This probably relates to poor scope and the lack of planning.  This point of failure is down to the fact that the project cannot deliver all it needs to within the required time frame.  In short, the project is doomed to failure from the outset

Lack of change control

Even if original estimates were 100% correct and accurate, as the project proceeds things will need to change, either driven internally or externally.  A smart project manager assumes change will happen, and implements a formal and informal change process.

People ad in things bit by bit which is called scope creep.  There will come a time within the project was is obvious that the project has grown so big that it cannot be delivered within the fixed budget or by the set deadline.

People, usually customers, a request for small simple and quick extras, when granted their wish, are the first to forget when late delivery and over budget projects are delivered

Okay, there’s might tend top reasons although almost certainly you could think of a few more.  My point here is that all of the above could be avoided by taking simple steps up front.

Is this a project or is it something else?

I guess I should take you right back to the start before you even consider setting up the project, because the first question you need to answer is whether there really is one.

Consider this, no matter what your role and responsibilities are in your current job, I’m guessing that you handle many assignments every day, and not all these assignments are projects.  So what questions should you ask to check if your new and assignment is really a project (or, as management tend to do, simply name it as a project without thinking it through)

Here are three questions to ask yourself to determine whether the job as a project or not:

  1. Is this a one off job or is it something that is ongoing?  If it is ongoing then maybe it is manufacturing or production.  The term used here is “business as usual”, sometimes called operational management.  Clearly then, this is not a project
  2. Does the job justified project controls?  Project management means incurring some overheads.  Although you may want to keep such overheads to a minimum, some jobs are so small or straightforward but they just don’t justify the degree of control that is needed in a real project
  3. So my last question is “do you want to handle the job as a project?” I guess until you’ve read the rest of my articles, you won’t really know the answer to that last question, but keep reading as I believe you will be able to make a judgment call.

To help you with the above paragraph, consider this: suppose you have been asked to prepare an important presentation to a major customer.  Even though this could involve you in say many days of work, and also require input from others, I’m sure you will agree that it is not the project – merely an important personal assignment.

And just a blur the edges a little bit based on the above paragraph, there is nothing wrong with you using some project management techniques to ensure that the presentation is a good one and carried out on time.

To Be Continued – Get Part 3 HERE!