Project Failure

project failure

project failure
Dick Billows, PMP

Why Projects Fail

Some organizations have project failure rates at 70% or above. In others, they are always late on promises made to customers. In still other cases, they can’t deliver new products and services that allow them to successfully compete.  Enterprise Project Management Hub

Most Organizations Have a 70% Project Failure Rat

Project success = produce planned deliverables, within budget and on time (including approved changes)

Using this definition of success, we find that most organizations have 70% project failure rates.  That project failure rate wastes so much money and human resources that even a small increase in the success rate is worth a lot. But the solution is not easy. Poor performance causes high project failure.  The poor performance is at three levels in the organization: executives, project managers and team members.  To cut the rate of failure, project managers must coach both the executives (subtly) and their team members (directly) about their roles and expected performance.  And implementation of a project process in the organization is vital to reducing the project failure rate to under 20%.

How To Avoid Project Failure: Executive’s Role

Executives set clear measurable(numeric) objectives for projects. They ensure all projects they allow to proceed yield business value and they allocate resources based on that value. Most executives fail at their project role and this contributes to project failure.  Here is an example of how they usually operate.

An executive calls two subordinate managers into a meeting and says, “We have a mess in customer service and we have to fix it. This has to be priority #1.  Drop everything else and clean up the mess. Install new systems and procedures and whatever else we need for World Class Customer Service!  In fact, we’ll call it that – the WCCS Project.”

One of the managers says, “Didn’t we do that last year?  I mean the acronym we used was different but this project sounds familiar.”

The other manager says, “You’re right.  In fact we’ve done this 3 times since I’ve been here.”

The executive snaps back, “Yes, and each earlier attempt failed.  Let’s do it right this time.”

The two managers exchange pained looks as the executive goes on, “Now, I have two other ideas for projects to cut costs and improve service. So here is what I want…”

The first manager interrupts with a groan, “You always have great ideas, boss, but our plates are full.  Our first-line supervisors are already spending half their time on projects and their real jobs are suffering.  The engineering and technical staffs are all working 70 hour weeks.  Something has to give.”

The executive frowns and says, “I know what’s going on down there and there’s plenty of time to squeeze in a few more projects.  Your people just have to work smarter not harder!”

Instead of giving the project managers a clear unambiguous objective, the executive gave them mission statement mush of World Class Customer Service. There was no assessment of the project’s business value. Additionally, he refused to tackle the politically difficult task of setting project priorities for allocating the limited human resources. Project Rescue

How To Avoid Project Failure: Project Manager’s Role

Project managers conceive, manage and control projects. They use best practice techniques to ensure the projects deliver their planned outcomes efficiently. Many project managers also fail in their role and contribute to project failure. Here is an example of how they operate.

A newly promoted project manager enters the cubicle of an experienced project manager and says, “I’m really nervous about my new project.  The way my director was talking this morning, the world may end if this project fails.  My boss said this is priority number one!  I’m gonna tell my family not to expect me to leave work on time for the next six months.  I’m worried that I’ll be in real trouble if I don’t bring it in on time and within budget.”

The experienced project manager laughs and says, “You’ll laugh too after you’ve heard that speech about 50 times.  On the first day they all talk loud and long about how important the project is.  But when you ask them to spend an hour or two planning this critically important project, they’re too busy.  When you ask them to make sure the project team members from other departments actually show up to work on your projects, they’re too busy for that too.”

The rookie relaxes and says, “Okay, you’ve been there and I haven’t.  I’ll take your advice. Can you tell me how the company wants project plans and schedules put together?”

The experienced project manager chuckles again and says, “We have no standard methodology.  Every project manager in the company just wings it.  You can’t possibly put together a plan when executives make you start work before they decide what they want.  When you try to define the scope or even ask what the project is supposed to produce, you usually get a long speech about how we need to react quickly and stay flexible.  The best thing to do is write down what they want you to do first and do it.  Then go back and ask them what they want you and the team to do next.  They want to micromanage everybody anyway. There’s no sense creating a lot of plans and schedules – they’re always a joke.”

The rookie gasps and says, “You’ve got to be kidding.  This is a successful organization.  How can we be successful without project plans and schedules?”

The experienced project manager smiles and replies, “I’ll help you with that. I’ve got a bunch of old project plans and some really big work breakdown structures you can use to copy and paste.  If anyone asks, you’ll have a really big plan and a highly detailed work breakdown structure that no one will ever look at anyway. But you won’t be responsible for project failure.”

Instead of the project managers pushing for the use of best practices, they act like order-takers at a drive thru restaurant. They give little thought or energy to planning or how to avoid problems before they occur.

How To Avoid Project Failure: Project Team Members’ Role

Team members make accurate estimates of the work and time. They report status accurately so problems are identified early. Many team members fail in this role and contribute to project failure.  Here’s an example of  how they operate.

Two technical professionals with heavy project workloads meet at a table in the company cafeteria.  The first technical professional, who is new to the company, grumbles, “They gave me three new project assignments this morning. I was afraid to say anything but there is no way I can get them all done by the due dates. It is more work than three people could do.”

The second technical professional laughs, “They’re always starting new projects and if you try to do all of them on time, you’ll kill yourself for nothing. Just pad the estimates by 50 or 60% so the project manager can’t blame you for the project failure. There are so many half-done projects floating around that no one remembers them all.  My rule is that if no one has talked about a project in the past month, I don’t do any work on it.”

The first professional replies, “But when we start these projects, the boss says I am committed to the estimates and completion dates. That’s exactly what he did on some projects two weeks ago.”

The second professional laughs again, “Oh yes, you’re committed.  Has the boss asked you about any of those older projects recently?”

“Well no.”

“Then they’re dead ducks.  Work on the projects people are screaming about.”

“But I’ve put dozens of hours into some of those old projects,” complains the first technical professional.  “Does the organization want me to just throw that time away?”

Shaking his head, the second technical professional replies, “I think we waste about a third of our time on projects we never finish. And we have high project failure rates on the ones we do complete. That’s why you shouldn’t get excited about flushing another one that’s headed down the drain.”

Instead of making accurate estimates of the amount of work and time required, project team members focus on avoiding blame.

How To Avoid Project Failure Summary

Organizations that consistently succeed with projects perform well at every level in the project management process:

  • They control the initiation of projects; planning, approving and monitoring projects based on the business value those projects produce.
  • They manage the pool of project resources just as they manage their capital budgets; allocating people’s time and money to projects based on the project’s payback.
  • They follow a consistent methodology for all projects; holding people accountable for measurable achievements.

To learn a complete methodology for project success in our private online training.

Free Project Article & Video Lecture Monthly


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: 4PM.com, 125 cold springs dr, georgetown, TX, 78633, http://4pm.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Emergency Projects

Dick Billows, PMP

Emergency projects challenge every PM’s professional discipline. When the emergency strike High ranking execs want fast action now… they don’t want thinking, or planning. If you are not moving at high speed… Get out of the way! Everyone else is frantic and if you don’t start responding franticly, they’ll think you don’t care. These hysteria enablers won’t be still until they have a to do list headed, “Start Work NOW!”

So give them the todo list and then use the resulting silence and calm to identify the decision makers who will judge the success of the emergency response. Let them define success then you can start the planing with a quantified deliverable which defines the scope. 

What if people/property are in danger!

If the emergency is in the “Act of God” category (fire, flood, earthquake, tsunami, meteor strike), there will be law, public  safety and political officials all over the place.  They each will have their own goals want to be in charge of saving people and property. You won’t begin work until all the people and property are secure.  But in the meantime, you can plan so once the people and property are secure you can start work with a developed and detailed plan for whatever type of emergency you face.

Marketing/Operational Emergency 

Another type of emergency is affects the organization’s:

  • market positions
  • product competitive positions
  • systems integrity
  • loss of prized human resources 

There are many examples of these emergencies. In one of them a competitor might exclusively acquire a new technology that will allow them to profitably sell your #3 product for 35% less than you do.  Resulting in a potential drop in your revenues of 23%. 

Recovery Project Scope

The initial thinking about the scope of the recovery project is often focused on “getting back to where we were.” In other words, the recovery project should aim to make us just like we were before the emergency.  But a better way to think through the planning is to recognize that we may

Often the best thing to do is take 5 minutes to assemble a todo ir only It doesn’t matter if you are the most experienced PM out there or if you just started your career in this field. There will be times when things don’t go your way and  you have a crisis project. As a matter of fact, if things wouldn’t go wrong from time to time, we would not have an opportunity to learn from our mistakes. However, it is also important to remember that no matter what the situation, a good PM always turns to problem analysis and planning first, that’s good crisis management. Project Planning Main Page

Towards the end of last year, I was reminded of the importance of planning during times of crisis. We had just completed a smaller migration project. This project was a rather routine exercise, as we had done similar projects multiple times before. The objective of the project was to move a number of trading transactions from one book to another in our main trading platform. We had a standard plan for this kind of project, everyone had signed-off on the plan, we had a number of test rounds, and finally, we did the migration in our production system. And then came the crisis. During our initial analysis and throughout the implementation phase, we had overlooked a small, but rather important parameter, and as a result we had produced a little mess in our main general ledger. Needless to say that most of our users had a tendency to panic, and the first thought was to move into action immediately, and to just adjust the ledger manually. This would have taken a whole day, and it would have bound numerous resources.

Crisis Planning

So how do you convince a crowd not to just jump into action, but to first perform an analysis and a planning session? You remind them about the consequences if the quick fix doesn’t work. The reason we had been in this situation was that we overlooked something before; hence, I reminded them that we don’t want to do the same mistake twice. Obviously, not everyone agreed, but most users understood the importance of analyzing the error and planning the response. So we did our analysis and created a simple “project plan”. This was not an endless document, on the contrary, it was an email, but a structured one. The email had the following sections:

  • Objective including a “business case”, which was the result of the error analysis
  • List of Stakeholders
  • Risks & Constraints
  • Procurement (we concluded that we can fix the problem ourselves)
  • A brief WBS
  • Communications Plan

During this “crisis” planning phase we discovered a very simple method of fixing the error, so the fix was truly “quick” and required a lot less time and resources than the original quick fix. Once the fix was implemented, I produced a lessons learned document and adjusted our standard plan for procedures like this. By following the standard project management during a crisis situation, we had forced ourselves to think first and agree on the way forward. In our case, the analysis part revealed a better solution, but even if we would have had to manually correct the error, we would have brought everyone back into the boat.

Project Portfolios: Managing Multiple Projects

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com

As projects multiply in an organization, the number of people on more that one project increases and project performance declines because:

  1. Projects compete for scarce resources
  2. Anyone can start a project on a whim
  3. The organization starts more project than it can finish so it wastes significant work hours on canceled projects
  4. No business value criteria exist for new projects
  5. No priorities exist for using resources 
  6. No consistent tracking of progress exists.

Portfolio Management Process

Organizations can solve these problem by making someone accountable for managing the portfolio of projects. That individual will start the project portfolio process by:

  1. Defining a Project Protocol. This tells everyone how to originate, plan, schedule, budget, track and close out a project. The heart of the protocol is that work estimates are made for each task in the approved projects.  This enables the organization to track actual progress.  The protocol doesn’t need to be more than one page long. Project managers will be trained in this simple methodology for doing all projects.
  2. Securing executive approval of a process for Initiating Projects.  The portfolio manager assesses each new project by comparing the business value the project will produce to the time and money it will consume.  The executive committee considers the portfolio manager’s recommendations and approves certain of the projects. It’s best if the organization sets a project initiation standard so people know what criteria their projects must meet.
  3. Setting priorities using the project initiation data on approved projects. The management committee reviews the portfolio manager’s slotting of projects into priority tiers.  It is our experience that 7 tiers of projects works best. And no tier should utilize more than 15% of the organization’s resources that are available for projects.  The organization also needs to reserve 15-20% of the resources for emergencies.
  4. Scheduling projects by priority tier.  Projects in the first tier get their resources first and can start work immediately.  Lower ranking projects have to wait for their resources. Projects in the bottom priority tiers may not start this year.
  5. Tracking progress weekly.  The portfolio manager and the people assisting him can compare actual progress to the plan and take corrective action. They can also report to the management committee on problem projects.
      1.  

Training for Portfolio Managers

The portfolio manager role is difficult. He or she must allocate resources across all the projects in the  portfolio they manage. They must deal with executive sponsors and stakeholders frequently. They must try to enforce effective organization-wide processes for managing multiple projects and programs. And that is a significant challenge.  Here is the training we provide for portfolio managers:

Managing multiple projects

The technical skills of portfolio management, setting priorities and allocating resources are straight-forward and rather simple. What’s not simple is handling the politics of managing multiple stakeholders with conflicting interests and priorities. Many newly promoted program and portfolio managers think all they need to succeed is the power of the CEO behind them. However, they soon find out that the senior executive, while backing the idea of doing projects the right way, will not overrule the executives that the program or portfolio manager deals with every day.

Far from using their power to force compliance with the program or portfolio manager’s proposals and processes, the CEO will want them to “work it out” with the executive stakeholders. Thus, managing multiple projects takes program and portfolio managers into the world of political maneuvering, horse-trading and deal-making. They must join in the political deal-making and coalition-building or the executives will quickly ignore them. They will consider the program and portfolio managers irrelevant to the issues and challenges these executives face.

Why Projects Fail

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com

In too many organizations, projects fail often and enterprise project management is a significant competitive weakness. These organizations are unable to deliver projects for their products or services on time or within budget.  The project managers, executives, sponsors and team members don’t know how to play their roles in the company project management process.  Additionally, their projects lack priorities, resources and clear definitions of what they must produce. Most organizations’ projects of all sizes deliver little business value, are often over budget and are often late. Poor company project management processes waste a lot of time and money. The organizations’ worst performance, however, is on their strategic initiatives. These projects have significant impact on the organization and its customers but they often have an 80%+ failure rate. Enterprise Project Management Main PageCompany Project Management

But that isn’t the end of the project failure symptoms in many organizations. There are so many projects underway that many first-line managers spend most of their work day on project assignments. The most productive and dedicated project team members work 60-70 hour weeks without an end in sight. These problems make organizations very vulnerable to competitive moves like competitors’ new products and services.

Company Project Management: The Portfolio of Projects

Let’s take a 10,000-foot view of the typical portfolio of projects in an organization. In the lower left-hand corner are the “puppy” projects. There are hundreds of these small projects and no one outside of the initiating department (and possibly IT or facilities) knows they exist. But when an organization installs effective project initiation processes, two-thirds of these puppy projects go away. They simply can’t meet the required business value justification.

In the upper left-hand corner are the “porpoise” projects. These are the smartest projects in the organization and they have a tight focus and lean staffing. The porpoise projects don’t cost very much and they yield solid payback. Unfortunately, most organizations don’t have any of these because the project managers and sponsors aren’t able to work together to meet the tight focus required for these projects.

In the upper right-hand corner are the “pachyderm” projects that are the organization’s strategic initiatives. These projects cost a lot of time and money and can yield significant business value. However, they often fail for a number of reasons. One reason is that they’re starved for resources. Another is that the project managers, sponsors, senior executives and team members don’t know how to play their project roles. These issues can lead to the slow descent of a strategic initiative into a failed project.

“Pig” projects in the lower right-hand corner don’t start out as efforts that waste a lot of resources and produce nothing. They can start as pachyderm projects but lose their focus and become pig projects. Pigs can also start as puppy projects that balloon out of control because of poor planning and a lack of scope control.

The company project management process requires regular fine-tuning of the portfolio of projects.

Company Project Management: People Don’t Know Their Roles 

Here is the common thread among organizations with problems in their company project management portfolio; people don’t know how to play their roles. Specific roles and responsibilities are necessary for projects to deliver business value on time and within budget.

Executives don’t know how to control the initiation of projects or how to set priorities for projects. Calling everything priority number one is not setting priorities. The executives have to agree on a company project management protocol for the organization. In 2 pages, it can spell out the rules for initiating, planning and tracking projects as well as the various roles people will play. They don’t have to do all the work in this protocol. They just oversee the process and use their authority to enforce the protocol.

The first step is that all new projects must be submitted with the project charter and data to justify the project. Projects that do not meet the criteria in the project protocol don’t get approved and work doesn’t start on them. Next, all approved projects are given a priority and that controls their claim to resources. High priority projects get the “first call” on resources and lower priority projects have to wait. This is much better than starting every project as soon as someone thinks of one and then waging a battle for resources. Allocating resources by priority allows everyone working on projects to have a calendar of what they have to get done, by when, for which project. That does wonders to cut the chaos and confusion in the lower ranks. It is a key element for a company project management system.

Project sponsors often don’t know how to define measurable acceptance criteria for the new projects they want to start. The company project management process requires clarity on how the company will measure the project’s success and what business value it will produce. Sponsors must learn how to define those criteria and create a statement of work  (SOW) to initiate a project. The statement of work is part of the project charter which the sponsor must submit for project approval. Next, project sponsors must learn how to review a project plan and make sure the plan meets the criteria laid out by the company project management protocol. And finally, sponsors play a lead role in approving any changes to the approved project plan.

Project managers often don’t know how to accurately estimate the work and duration of tasks. They also don’t know how to model different ways to deliver the scope. Sponsors need to be given those options so they can juggle trade-offs between the scope, cost and duration. Finally, project managers must be able to spot problems early. This requires accurate status data from the team. The project managers must be able to forecast completion dates and costs and propose solutions to problems.

Project team members often don’t know how to take part in the estimating process for their tasks. They must know how to report status accurately and provide “estimates to complete.” This data is the key to allowing the project manager to spot problems early so they can solve them when they are small. Team members also don’t know how to juggle multiple assignments because the project priorities are not clear.

When everyone knows how to play their role properly, according to the rules laid out in the company project management protocol, the organization has the foundation for fixing their project problems. Now let’s talk about the five steps to improving your organization’s project performance and developing your protocol.

Company Project Management: What Doesn’t Work 

Fixing the project performance mess is tricky and it can be painful. We have worked with over 300 small and medium-size organizations to address these company project management issues. And we have learned that senior management will make the required sacrifices to straighten out project failure only when they can’t tolerate the pain of those failures. However, there are no easy fixes.

You can’t fix the problem with expensive project software and servers, despite what the IT department recommends. Small and medium-size organizations can control up to 250 in-process projects on a PC with software that costs a couple hundred dollars. To do this, you need a high level of compliance with a new, leaner way of planning, scheduling and tracking projects.

You can’t fix this problem by sending a few project managers to training, despite what the trainers tell you. Everyone, including sponsors, project managers and team members, must be trained on how to play their company project management role.

You can’t fix this problem by tightly controlling only the big projects, despite what the consultants tell you. If you only make your company project management process changes for big projects, the puppy projects will run amok, leaving a mess on the corporate carpet.

Finally, you can’t fix this problem by having a few certified project managers or consultants create a paperwork jungle. Endless paperwork and needless meetings are the curse of project management.

The solution is installing a simple, straightforward company project management process that everyone follows. These processes save people time so they willingly follow them. Achieving a high level of compliance is the key to making these processes work better, not adding a lot of paperwork.

Company Project Management: A Five-Step Program That Fixes the Problem 

It is challenging to achieve consistent company project management success because you need to overcome a number of problems simultaneously. Successful programs to improve company project management performance in organizations include these five elements:

1. Executives exercise control over initiating new projects. That means all new projects, not just the big ones, must justify their business value. This will make sure that the resource investment is repaid by the benefits the project delivers.

2. The executives agree on and approve a company project management protocol that details the process and defines everyone’s role. Every organization needs its unique company project management protocol but this document should not exceed two pages. Once again, high compliance by executives and project managers is the key, not fancy processes and excessive paperwork.

3. Everyone gets trained on their role as it’s designed for your particular organization. In the training program, they also learn the data they’ll be getting from decision-making and the inputs they must give. The training must be focused on managing the kind of projects your organization does, not generic academic case studies. The curriculum and case studies must be tailored to the kind of projects you do and your organization’s unique culture. Otherwise, the program isn’t relevant.

4. We’re talking about making significant changes to people’s work habits, so ongoing support is a critical requirement. People need to have someone they can ask about what to do in unique situations. This is particularly true in the first few months of implementing the new protocol.

5. Finally, everyone needs to agree to the implementation plan. It will substantially reduce the number of puppy projects and require the re-planning of some ongoing projects as you clean out the pipeline of poorly conceived projects.

These steps work because they make everyone’s job on projects easier and because they free up a lot of resources from the poor payback projects that are cancelled. This allows people to work on the important projects.

Company Project Management Summary 

To improve your company project management success, people must learn how to play their project roles properly. The project managers, executives, project sponsors and team members often do not know what their role is. And they don’t have the tools and techniques to play it properly. The consequences are devastating. Executives don’t set priorities for projects or allocate resources based on those priorities. The priorities change every day, depending on who a team member talked to last. That causes chaos among the people working on projects.

Additionally, project sponsors don’t know how to define the scope of a project nor exercise the necessary control over changes to the scope. Many project managers don’t know how to use their project software tools to create options and alternatives for project sponsors to consider. They must be able to create those options during planning and every week when there is a problem and corrective action is needed. The project manager must produce a couple of options for sponsors to consider.

Finally, project team members very often don’t know how to estimate the work and duration in their tasks. They also don’t know how to report their progress and make estimates of the remaining work. Without that data on the estimate to complete, project managers and sponsors have difficulty identifying problems early, when they are small and easily solved.

The five step program we discussed addresses each of these issues and will improve your company project management.

At the beginning, when you and Dick talk to design your program and what you want to learn, you will select case studies that fit the kind of projects you want to manage. Chose you course and then select the which specialty case study from business, or marketing,  or construction, or healthcare, or consulting.  That way your case studies and project plans, schedules and presentations will fit your desired specialty.

  1. 101 Project Management Basics
  2. 103 Advanced Project Management Tools
  3. 201 Managing Programs, Portfolios & Multiple Projects
  4. 203 Presentation and Negotiation Skills
  5. 304 Strategy & Tactics in Project management

PMO – Project Management Office Types and Strategies

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com

When organizations have consistent project failures, i.e. they are late, over budget and produce no business value, the executives often add a PMO – Project Management Office.  There are several types of PMO, each of which plays a different role and uses different staff and techniques. Whatever the type, the goal is always to get projects under control and improve their results.

In many organizations, project failures increase as the number of projects grows. People previously worked on one project in addition to their “real job” and they found it exciting and unique. Now they have 3 – 4 project assignments as well as their real job.  They are unclear which of the  projects has the higher priority because each of the project managers says their project comes first.  The team member’s real job suffers because of these competing assignments.

To make matters worse, the number of new projects grows because there is little review or control over the promised business value of each one. Project failures climb and the organization consistently fails to deliver on organizational initiatives.  When the failure rate rises above 50%, the organization is also paralyzed against their competition. Executives desperately search for solutions. They try project management training programs, new computer systems, more forms, new review meetings and last but not least, a PMO. They hope the PMO can return them to the old days when projects succeeded and people wanted to work on a project.  See Enterprise Project Management

PMO – Project Management Office Problems to Solve

Two main problems that PMOs attempt to solve are project prioritization and resource allocation. Often the organization has no system for prioritizing projects. There is merely a lot of yelling about which project should be priority #1. (And there are already 50 top priority projects in the pipeline.) No one evaluates each new project based on its costs and benefits and then sets their priority. Project work if often interrupted by the appearance of a new top priority project. People don’t know what project is most important or what to work on first. This lack of prioritization means the organization wastes valuable resources on projects it will never finish.
Project Management Office

The second problem is that no one is managing the portfolio of projects. The organization cannot successfully complete larger strategic projects because there are dozens of  small “puppy projects” that get launched every week. In many organizations, these litters of projects consume 40% of the total project resources without any evaluation of their value. They are “off the organization’s radar” and the people who sponsor all these puppies like it that way.

The resource pool is a nightmare because project managers are constantly vying for team members. To allocate resources effectively, someone needs to know who is working on what project, how long it will take them and when they will be finished.  With that information, the organization can allocate resources to projects based on their priority.

PMO- Project Management Office: The Solution?

These two problems must be solved for the organization’s projects to be successful. It requires limiting the autonomy of executives and project managers. It also requires the organization to manage cross functional projects by sharing people across department/functional lines. There are many objections to this.

The complaint we hear from executives is, “I am a VP and these people all work for me.  I can start a project any time I want.”

The complaint we hear from project managers is, “Do you want me to do the project or all this paperwork the PMO is demanding?”

The complaint we hear from managers who lend resources to projects is, “It’s a recognized management principal that no employee can have more than one boss.”

When the organization throws a PMO into this mix, it’s often staffed by people who think they’re the best project managers. These project managers decide that everyone has to do things “the right way.” So they begin issuing project rules, regulations and new forms that project managers must use. They feel all the rules and paperwork will give them control over the projects. But busy project managers usually ignore all these bureaucratic requirements; and they usually get away with it.

In some cases, the net result is that the PMO doesn’t solve the issues of initiation/prioritization and resource allocation. Some project management office efforts fail because they create so many procedures and so much paperwork that compliance is low and scorn is high. They waste a lot of project managers’ time trying to enforce cumbersome academic methodologies. Others fail because they don’t provide useful data to decision-makers.

However, some PMOs work well. Let’s look at some of these options.

PMO- Project Management Office: The Weather Station

Just like your friendly TV weather person, the Weather Station PMO reports on what is going on but doesn’t try to influence it. This PMO doesn’t bother any of the PMs who are leading projects with rules and forms. These Weather Station people accumulate data about projects and summarize it for executives. They don’t make any decisions or enforce any standards. They merely pass on the information to anyone who is interested and wants to use it. The Weather Station can be implemented painlessly and if the information is focused, it can serve decision–makers’ needs.

PMO- Project Management Office: The Control Tower

In the Control Tower PMO, the project office personnel give project managers direction on PM methodology. This includes project initiation, acquiring resources and correcting variances. While each PM manages his or her own projects, the Control Tower PMO will alert them to impending problems. It will also identify situations where the PM is not adhering to the methodology, particularly during scheduling and verification of deliverables.

PMO- Project Management Office: Command Central

The Command Central PMO  may be the home department for all or most of the organization’s project managers . They report to the Command Central management, not to the project sponsors in the operating units. The Command Central’s enforcement of a consistent methodology is strict. This PMO is actively involved in the evaluation of new projects and recommends their approval or rejection to executives. They usually play a configuration management role. This means they analyze changes to projects and changes to the specifications of project deliverables.

PMO- Project Management Office: Which Type is Best? 

What’s the best type of project management office? The answer depends on the state of project management in the organization.

The Weather Station PMO is a good solution for organizations at the chaos stage in managing their projects.  The Weather Station’s data distribution can help with resource allocation and priority issues. The Weather Station also sounds innocent and does not trigger a lot of turf battles like the other two types. But it does not have the clout to resolve issues about nitiating too many projects, lending resources across functional lines, or prioritizing projects.

Organizations emerging from project chaos require more centralized control and enforcement to instill a disciplined approach and a consistent methodology. They must be able to handle the turf wars that usually arise when the Control Tower PMO is implemented. Their role in controlling project initiation and enforcing standards for new projects steps on the toes (and the fragile egos) of sensitive functional managers.

The Command Central PMO pays off when larger organizations have a significant number of cross-functional projects. Then centralization of the project managers (at least for cross-functional projects) can improve training and utilization of the project managers. It also ensures use of a consistent methodology. This type of PMO is useful if management is:

  • Unable to control the initiation of new projects
  • Unable to exercise control over the organization’s portfolio of existing projects and
  • Unwilling to enforce an organization-wide protocol for planning, approving and tracking projects.

We only see effective PMOs in organizations that have solved the authority problems of cross-functional projects and developed a key group of skilled project managers. These PMs apply a consistent protocol for planning, budgeting and tracking projects. This Command Central PMO allows the line managers and PMs sufficient “elbow room” for creativity while still allocating resources properly and coordinating the organization’s initiation of projects.

More information on the lean project methodology

At the beginning of our courses, when you and Dick talk to design your program and what you want to learn, you will select case studies that fit the kind of projects you want to manage. Chose you course and then select the which specialty case study from business, or marketing,  or construction, or healthcare, or consulting.  That way your case studies and project plans, schedules and presentations will fit your desired specialty.

  1. 101 Project Management Basics
  2. 103 Advanced Project Management Tools
  3. 201 Managing Programs, Portfolios & Multiple Projects
  4. 203 Presentation and Negotiation Skills
  5. 304 Strategy & Tactics in Project management

Free Project Article & Video Lecture Monthly


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: 4PM.com, 125 cold springs dr, georgetown, TX, 78633, http://4pm.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Program Manager – Multiple Projects

program management
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4PM.com

Program managers are responsible for the performance of several projects, their project managers and the human and financial resources the program consumes. They are also accountable for the benefits, the business value, the projects produce. Program management is focused on allocating resources to the various projects in the program to maximize the overall business value.  As well, the program manager must meet the often conflicting needs and requirements of the stakeholders of those projects. Program management  uses the tools and techniques of project and portfolio management but must also deal with complex interpersonal relationships.  The program manager deals with senior management as well as lower management levels. Controlling the expectations of these manages and securing their support for projects is the heart of the job. The large number of stakeholders affected by the projects in the program consume much of the program managers time.

Becoming a program manager is the next step up for experienced senior project managers. Program management includes the skill to managing multiple projects with related outcomes that the organization bundles into a program. The program manager usually has project managers as subordinates, each of them managing one of the component projects in a larger program. Many program managers manage several programs at a time. They may even manage all of the projects and programs in an organization. Project Management Careers Main Page

Program Manager: Interpersonal Skills

The program manager must have very strong interpersonal skills because they interact with the organization’s executives. They must persuade and influence the executives in order to maximize the yield on each of the organization’s projects and programs. There are always executive conflicts about project and program priorities and the program manager must be able to address those issues and build consensus for a solution. Therprogram managemente are also weekly conflicts about the prioritization of projects as new projects are added to the organization’s portfolio. The program manager needs to build consensus on those priorities so that resources can be allocated based on the organization’s priorities.

Program Manager: Technical Skills

Second, the program manager needs to possess the technical skills to allocate resources across all of the organization’s projects and track the status for each of them. The program manager needs to be able to assemble status data and analyze variances with techniques like earned value management to be able to present executives with accurate and timely status data so they can make decisions.

Program Manager: Subordinate Development Skills

Third, the program manager must be able to teach the subordinate project managers a consistent methodology for doing their projects. This means all projects are managed with the same techniques and tools.

Program Manager: Summary

The highest level of certification in the project management area is the program manager certification. There are some important skill sets that you need to add to your project management toolkit to manage multiple projects, either in a large program or a portfolio. Those skills include software techniques to consolidate all the projects, track resource utilization, and ensure people are working on the right assignments at all times. Even more challenging for program managers is the skilled to deal with a group of executives, manage their expectations and persuade them to follow the best practices in project management. The interpersonal, communication and presentation skills at the program manager level require training and practice.

We offer a Program Manager Certification that teaches all of these skills. It’s a two course online program for experienced project managers that is approximately 120 hours of work with individual coaching from an expert program manager. One course is devoted to program management and methodology skills. The other course focuses on interpersonal, professional communication and presentation skills. You give live online presentations to your instructor and practice persuading and influencing executives. You help them reach agreement on issues like program priorities and resource allocations. Courses in your specialty

Failed Projects

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com
Dick’s Books on Amazon

“This project has to succeed; it’s critical to our organization. We can’t have a failed project!” You have probably heard this a hundred times during your career. Yet many organizations have lots of failed projects. Sometimes they’re as high as 70%.  The failure rate for projects sponsored by certain executives are even higher because they have no idea how to sponsor a project. Sometimes failed projects are delivering so little value to the organization that the executives stop work on them. But that’s pretty rare because often there is too much political and financial capital invested to admit failure.  So the failed project continues even when it is so out of control that no one can find a way to salvage it.

Most organizations don’t learn from their project failures so they have one failed project after another. In those organizations, 70% of the projects fail to deliver the scope for anywhere near the planned cost. Every project failure should lead to a detailed investigation of what went wrong. Organization must circulate that information to executives and project managers. Unfortunately, very often the failures are hidden and there is no investigation into what went wrong. Enterprise Project Management Main Page

Here are the three causes we often find in our review of clients’ failed projects.

Failed Projects: A Vague Scope Statement

Lots of projects have weak scope definitions. But on failed projects, the scope is so vague that it establishes few limitations on what is included in the project. So scope creep is rampant. People at all levels in all functional areas add new features to the project every week. Here are some examples of additions: new software that the IT department wouldn’t give them; new equipment that didn’t meet the capital approval process; other “goodies” that are good ideas but don’t create value for the project. Project Failure Warning Signs

The scope has to define specific deliverables the project must produce. That scope of the project must be approved before any work starts. The scope statement itself must include quantified acceptance criteria. These are metrics that can be objectively measured. As an example, a customer service improvement project might have a scope of “Less than 3% of the customers have to call back about the same problem.” That metric gives the executives, the sponsor and the project manager a tool to judge whether user requirements and change requests are necessary to produce the deliverable.

Failed Projects: Lack of Data in Planning and Tracking

Another characteristic of failed projects is project plans without data. They don’t have estimates of the hours of work required for the tasks and deliverables. Instead, the sponsor plucks a completion date that sounds good out of the sky. Cost estimates are also missing except for general wild guesses. As a result, people who are completing tasks or purchasing items have no constraints on the time or money they spend. This is bad enough during planning but it is disastrous when it comes to tracking actual results. Team members’ status reports don’t give the number of hours and dollars they have spent on their task and an estimate of the hours and dollars required to complete their tasks. Instead they give a subjective estimate like “I’m in greenlight status.” This doesn’t give the sponsor or project manager any ability to decide where the project’s problems are or even if they exist. Project Rescue

Failed Projects: No Accountability for Results

Finally, failed projects have little or no personal accountability for results. Some team members are working on a specific task. Others are part of a more general effort involving the entire project team. But few team members are held accountable for producing a specific deliverable, by a certain date, for a specified number of hours or dollars. As a result, it is impossible to identify who should solve a problem on a task.

Failed Projects: Summary

Here are the characteristics that all failed projects have in common:

  • They take place in organizations that have no standard project processes
  • The scope of these projects are vague
  • There are no standard planning, tracking and reporting processes
  • All projects are ad hoc. Each project manager makes up the rules about how to manage their project
  • No one is held accountable for delivering results

Organizations won’t change their project management processes until the pain from failed projects is too great to ignore.

Learn how to use project management best practices and avoid failures in our online project management basics courses. You work privately with an expert project manager. You control the schedule and pace and have as many phone calls and live video conferences with your instructor as you wish.  Take a look at the course in your specialty.

[button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/it-project-management/it-project-basics-111/” style=”info” color=”red” window=”yes”]IT Projects[/button]

[button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/business-project-management/project-management-basics/” size=”medium” style=”download” color=”#1e14a8″ border=”#940940″ window=“yes”]Business[/button]

[button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/construction-project-management/construction-project-basics-121/” style=”info” color=”red” window=”yes” bg_color=“00000000″]Construction[/button]

[button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/healthcare-project-management-2/health-care-projects/” style=”info” color=”#1e14a8″ window=”yes” bg_color=“00000000″]Healthcare[/button]

[button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/client-project-management/client-project-basics-online-141/” style=”info” color=”red” window=”yes” bg_color=”00000000″]Consulting Projects[/button]

Lean Project Management

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com
Dick’s Books on Amazon

One day you emerge from your Performance Improvement Project status meeting and realize your once “lean and mean” project is waddling toward the completion date. It’s destined to be late for lots of reasons.  How could this happen? You started out with Lean Project Management but then...

  • The engineers fell in love with a new nano technology that was critical to the first deliverable. But now they’ve added it to four more deliverables.  That added a few extra days of development and a few more of testing, then another few on installation.
  • You lost a couple of arguments about a “Do-it-Yourself” report generator that two stakeholders raved about.  You were willing to bet they would never use it but eventually they went to their boss about it. Then you got a phone call from the sponsor about the need to keep the stakeholders happy.
  • The sponsor insisted upon adding a training class to the project. He wouldn’t listen when you tried to explain that the class would delay the completion date.  The sponsor told you, “Find a way; use your leadership skills.”

Now your once lean project is a fat pig. Stakeholders want to talk about features, functionalities and fixtures, not the business value they will deliver.  Planning the project is difficult when executives talk about “getting started quickly” and finishing “as soon as possible.” They think you can plan the project as you go. Project Methodology Main Page

Lean Project Management: Techniques That Don’t Work

A never-ending stream of changes and additions make it difficult to stop projects from adding fat. So how do you cope? Well, there are a number of techniques that don’t work.  The first “sure to fail” tactic is to write long, rambling project scope statements that are so vague no one disagrees with anything in them.  This makes the stakeholders very happy with you…in the beginning.

The second “sure to fail” tactic is to focus on features, fixtures and activities. This delights the micro-managers in the stakeholder group as well as people who want to avoid conflict and making difficult decisions.  This last group is easily identified because they’re the ones who only talk about getting off to a fast start.

Lean Project Management Techniques That Do Work

We’ve talked about what doesn’t work. Now let’s talk about the lean project management techniques that do work because they let you “frame” the project.  You need to get all the project stakeholders to look at the business situation through the same frame. Then they must agree on the dimensions of the frame which are the project’s business value.

lean project managementA Short, Direct & Measured Broad-Brush Plan

Long windy narratives don’t give you the kind of framing you need because people don’t read them and the frame has no hard edges.  These “literary masterpieces” define the scope with such political correctness that everybody can see something in it they like.  What works best in lean project management is a short, 1 -1.5 page, broad-brush strategic plan that frames the measurable and verifiable business outcomes and the value of the project.  You can always write a more massive plan once the strategic framing is approved.

In lean project management, you must do the difficult thinking that’s required to frame the project in terms of measurable business results. You must resist talking to project executives about the  technical details of the approach that you’ll use. Few project sponsors are interested in the technical details of coding languages or design strategies.  Project managers who talk to sponsors at this level should not be surprised when they have difficulty getting the executives to meet with them.  Regardless of how fascinating you may find the technical details, most project sponsors are not interested in how you get to the end result.  They don’t care about the nitty gritty details.  They like the lean project management approach of what people will pay for the product and how many the Sales people can sell.

That’s why lean project management requires you to do the difficult task of probing the business situation and quantifying the project outcomes and the business value of the project. You must find out what business value the sponsor wants the project to produce. For example, it can be a new product or a solution to a problem.  You must express that business value in the sponsor’s language, not yours.

Spraying Gasoline on Smoldering Embers

Good strategic project framing doesn’t create conflict.  But if burning embers of conflict exist in the business situation or between the sponsors, good project framing sprays gasoline on those embers to ignite them.  Why inflame the conflict?  Because you’d much rather bring it out into the open before you start work than have the flames spring to life when the project is half done. We’re not talking about you having conflict with the sponsors.  That would be a stupid, career-limiting move. These people are your clients or organizational superiors.  No, we’re talking about inflaming the conflict between the sponsors and then facilitating its resolution before you start work on the project.

So how do you inflame this conflict? By being absolutely crystal-clear about what the project will produce and, as importantly, what it will not.  You do this with a short scope statement that is unambiguous and states measurable business outcomes.  That’s the gasoline and you spray it on the fires of conflict by distributing it to everyone in a very short, direct and readable form.  You want them to agree on how they will measure success when the project is done.

Decomposing From the Top Down

Once you have the sponsor’s agreement and sign-off on the measured business outcome the project will deliver, (the scope), you start the decomposition effort.  This process develops a network of supporting sub-achievements that will lead from the present business situation to the Measure of Success (MOS™). Once again, you’re spraying gasoline on any conflicts that exist by being very specific, quantifiable, and measurable in describing the supporting business achievements that will lead the project to the end result. This path to the MOS™ includes more than just your work.  It also frames the process changes and achievements that other people in the organization must deliver.

The difficulty in this process is avoiding the “activity trap.” Everyone (including project managers) finds it easier to talk about what they’re going to do than to define what they’re going to achieve. But when the backbone of your project is laid out in measured achievement terms, you frame the project for the stakeholders and create a foundation for crystal clear assignments to your team members.  You can communicate to the team exactly what end results you expect from them before they start work.

4-Corners™ Trade-Offs     lean project management

Now you’re ready to develop the “4-Corners” of your project plan and give yourself the best scope and change control tool available. That is the ability to quantify trade-offs between the four dimensions of the project.  Every project has “4-Corners” and changes in one corner always impact at least one other corner:

  • Business value (scope)
  • Budget (cost)
  • Completion date (duration)
  • Level of confidence (risk) in delivering the preceding three corners.

Unfortunately, in most projects only one (or two at the most) of these corners is explicitly measurable.  The completion date is always objectively measurable and usually rock solid.  But most internal projects have no other measurable dimension.  In some business situations, the budget for the project will also be measurable.  But even with these two measured dimensions, the business value of the project is usually unmeasurable mush.  As a result, you can’t quantify the impact of scope changes on the budget or duration except by whining loudly.

The risk corner is rarely measured. As a result, project sponsors assume there’s no risk and you are 100% confident of delivering the business value within the duration and/or budget.  Now 100% confidence seems ridiculous, particularly in light of the fact that most organizations experience a project failure rate near 50 percent.  Yet few project managers give their sponsors the opportunity to make decisions about the level of confidence they want and the level of “risk insurance” they’re willing to pay for.

The lean project management framing process we’ve been talking about gives you a scope.  You can use that quantified measure of the project’s business value when you build your project schedule and budget.  You can also present your sponsor with quantified trade-offs between the “4-Corners” of the project plan.  This data-based decision-making and “fine-tuning” is a far better approval platform than one based on arbitrary changes to one or more of the corners without any compensating changes in the others.

You will use these quantified trade-offs every time there is a variance to the plan.  Your lean project management status reports will include trade-off analyses between the “4-Corners.” That allows executives to evaluate alternatives for taking advantage of opportunities and recovering from problems.

 

Learn more about our Lean Project Management Methodology and the specific techniques for framing your projects and developing “4-Corners™” trade-offs in our online project management courses. You’ll work privately and individually with a expert project manager. You control the schedule and pace and have as many phone calls and live video conferences as you wish. Take a look at the course in your specialty. We can also customize a program for your organization and deliver it at your site or in online webinars.

[button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/it-project-management/advanced-it-project-management/” style=”info” color=”red” window=”yes”]IT Projects[/button]

[button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/business-project-management/advanced-business-project-management-103/” size=”medium” style=”download” color=”#1e14a8″ border=”#940940″ window=“yes”]Business[/button]

[button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/construction-project-management/advanced-construction-project-management-123/” style=”info” color=”red” window=”yes” bg_color=“00000000″]Construction[/button]

[button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/healthcare-project-management-2/advanced-healthcare-project-management/” style=”info” color=”#1e14a8″ window=”yes” bg_color=“00000000″]Healthcare[/button]

[button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/client-project-management/client-project-tools-advanced/” style=”info” color=”#1e14a8″ window=”yes” color=”red”]Consulting[/button]

Get free articles and videos like this every week

Project Templates

Project Templates vs. Re-inventing the Wheel

Project templates can be a big time saver as long as they fit your project and your organization. The best way to secure templates that you can use on all of your projects is for you and perhaps a couple of other project managers to develop them yourselves.  It really doesn’t take a great deal of time and often project managers can pool and compare the formats and templates they use for the project scope, charter, stakeholder identification and so on.  Designing a common template obviously requires a little bit of compromise but it will save time for the project managers and the sponsors and stakeholders who will use these documents.  However, you should avoid at all costs the Excel template called “Factories” that sells hundreds of templates that supposedly “fit all projects.” They do not.

Project Managers are creative people and that’s a good thing. Without creativity, we would not be able to structure a project or react quickly to project templatesunforeseen challenges. However, it is also human nature to try to customize and alter things until they totally look the way we want them to or at least bear our undeniable mark. Unfortunately, this practice is not efficient and it might actually hinder your project success.  That’s why you reaching consensus on project templates with your PM colleagues is the best course.

Project Templates Save Time

We all hate those forms that we have to fill out to get a project approved and we don’t like the client’s format for project status reports. After all, we are experienced project managers. So why can’t the client use our artfully created project templates for the scope, charter, WBS, and status presentation? Of course we develop a new form for each project. If you work in an organization that always develops everything from scratch, please take a minute to read through the list below of the benefits of standardization. On the other hand, if you work in an organization with lots of standardization, these points might help you appreciate all the forms you have available. Obviously, over-standardization is an issue. But for the most part, having a standardized way of organizing, managing, and documenting projects has at least the following benefits:

Shorter Start-Up Time

If everyone uses the same project templates, everyone knows what to expect. Let’s call it the McDonalds Principle: No matter where in the world you buy a cheeseburger from McDonalds, its always the same: Two buns, one hamburger patty, a slice of cheese, a slice of pickle, mustard and ketchup. Customers know exactly what they’ll get when they order a McDonalds cheeseburger.

The same holds true for standardized forms and processes. Everyone knows what is expected and things can be compared, matched, and so on. All the decision makers in the organization know where to find the information they are looking for so they can make a decision more easily. Moreover, if you need to train a new PM, it is easier to show him/her a set of similar-looking project charters and plans than it is to analyze a set of completely different-looking documents. Last but not least, using tools that already exist and that have been tested by previous PMs will make it easier for you to start the actual project work. You need not wast time designing something that already exists.

Easier Lessons Learned 

Each project or project phase should end with a lessons learned session. Standardized requirements documentation, status reports, and plans make it easier to point out flaws and actually learn from our mistakes.

Easier Estimation Next Time

If all the projects in an organization use the same standards, it will be easier for PMs to use historical analysis for their next project’s estimations because they can accurately compare the current project with a previous one. The point I’m making here is this: Standardization has its place. Obviously, there is an extreme to that, but I hope you get my point. When starting with a new client, why don’t you ask your client if they have a standard for PM documentation?

Until next time.

Project Management Maturity in Organizations

The project management maturity in an organization is an important guidepost for its project managers. In some organizations this process leads to bureaucratic procedures, endless documentation and paperwork. These waste a great deal of time and have no beneficial impact on their project success rates. In other organizations, the project management processes mature by becoming leaner and more efficient. They positively and substantially contribute to the project success rate. Careful executive management of four elements of an organization’s project management process is the key to taking the efficient path versus to the bureaucratic one. Let’s discuss each of these elements.

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com
Dick’s Books on Amazon

Project Management Maturity: The Project Management Office (PMO)

The concept of a project management office is initially sold in the organization as a way to gather data and make it available for faster and easier decision-making. Another benefit may be consistency in the way the organization’s project managers manage. A third benefit can be allocating resources to projects based on the executives’ prioritization of projects. What that means is that the most important projects get first call on scarce resources and lower priority projects have to wait.  Project Management Office Main Page
At the start, the project office can have a positive influence on the organization’s project success rates. However, in most of the 300 organizations we have worked on their project management processes, the project management office’s value quickly declines. The people in the PMO want to tightly control the organization’s projects. They often insist on monitoring the work of the project managers by adding additional forms, procedures and meetings. But the PMO staff frequently fails in their most important function with is to build the organization’s project archives. These archives should contain the data, plans and lessons learned from completed projects. Although the process doesn’t sound too exciting, the resulting benefit definitely is. In as little as six months, the project archives can save project managers significant amounts of time, avoid mistakes and improve quality. The PMs can use and/or modify the project plans and data from similar projects rather than starting from scratch. On larger projects, they may also use the risk analysis and the stakeholder management analysis to save a great deal of time. Project Lessons Learned Main Page

Project Management Maturity: Estimating Database

The single biggest benefit of the project archives is in improving the accuracy of the cost and duration estimates. The archives contain data on how much work/cost the project tasks required.  Every professional firm and consulting organization maintains an archive of data on previous projects. They know they can’t make money if their estimates are inaccurate. That’s why they invest substantial sums in organizing the project archives. Organizations that are consistently successful with projects always have an archive of completed projects because it makes their project managers more efficient and saves them from making the same mistakes again.

As that data accumulates, it becomes easier for project managers with a new assignment to find similar projects or parts of previous projects that are similar to parts of the new one. This allows project managers to use analogous estimating techniques based on real historic data to create more reliable and accurate estimates. Analogous Estimating Video 
Unfortunately, the people who tend to drift into the project management office function find archiving of data boring, so they pay little attention to it. The archive has little value if no one spends a modest amount of time organizing and referencing the data from previous projects.

Project Management Maturity: Consistency Without Bureaucracy

It is astounding how quickly project management offices turn into generators of new forms and new procedures. They want to control the project and they need data to do it. But quite often that’s not forthcoming from the project managers. We often hear project managers ask their project sponsors, “Do you want me to do the project or finish all this damn paperwork?”
While the archived plans and estimating database are a tremendous help to project managers, a steady stream of new forms and procedures is not. PMOs tend to generate lots of new forms because that’s how they get the information they think they need. However, some fine tuning and automation of the weekly status report process can provide all the information the PMO and project managers need without additional paperwork.project management maturity

Project Management Maturity: Periodic Assessments

Organizations need to examine how their project management processes are maturing. They should do the following:

  • Ensure that the individual project managers’ skills and techniques are keeping pace with current practice
  • Ensure that project sponsors understand their role and how to direct the project managers who work for them
  • Assess the value of the company’s project archives and ensure they’re saving time and improving accuracy.

You can assess where your organization is positioned in this project management maturity process. Look at two metrics in addition to the aspects of the project processes listed above. First, look at the density of projects in the organization. How many people are working on multiple projects? That tells you about the level of contention for resources by on-going projects. The second metric is the project failure rate and the trends in that failure rate. Are they increasing or decreasing?

Project Management Maturity: Implementing a Project Management Process

As organizations strive to improve their project performance and become consistently successful, one of the least expensive steps that produces significant benefits is implementing a project management process. This requires the project sponsors and project managers to agree on the steps and templates to be used as well as the data elements to be archived.  The use of archived data and template have the largest impact and start paying benefits in a few months. Other elements can be added to the project management process to achieve consistency in status reporting, scheduling, variance reporting and change control.

You can learn more about using an effective project management process in our online project management courses. You work privately and individually with a expert project manager. You control the schedule and pace and have as many phone calls and live video conferences as you wish.  Take a look at the course in your specialty.

[button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/it-project-management/advanced-it-project-management/” style=”info” color=”red” window=”yes”]IT Projects[/button]

[button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/business-project-management/advanced-business-project-management-103/” size=”medium” style=”download” color=”#1e14a8″ border=”#940940″ window=“yes”]Business[/button]

[button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/construction-project-management/advanced-construction-project-management-123/” style=”info” color=”red” window=”yes” bg_color=“00000000″]Construction[/button]

[button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/healthcare-project-management-2/advanced-healthcare-project-management/” style=”info” color=”#1e14a8″ window=”yes” bg_color=“00000000″]Healthcare[/button]

[button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/client-project-management/client-project-tools-advanced/” style=”info” color=”#1e14a8″ window=”yes” color=”red”]Consulting[/button]

Get free articles and videos like this every week