Substandard Project Management

Delivering projects on time and on budget is the standard expectation for most organizations. In reality, 94% of companies fail to deliver projects on time and within budget.

Regardless of the industry, project success is critical to long-term company success.  Sound project management controls, managing project schedules and budgets is a daunting task for companies without qualified Project Managers. 

So why do so few companies consistently meet their project milestones and end result?

Often it’s a simple problem: failure to follow well-defined project management methodologies despite ongoing efforts to improve processes with the goal of delivering better results.

What major issues cause projects to fail?

Lack of Project Management Competencies

Project management competencies are considered key components to the business, yet few companies spend the effort to train qualified project managers and supply them with project management controls. 

In a 2009 survey, 90% of respondents say project management is either critical (47%) or somewhat important (43%) to their ability to deliver successful projects and remain competitive. However, nearly one-half (49%) only follow formal project management practices on large or complex projects and few (20%) use a standardized set of project management tools including enterprise-level systems.

Lack of Analyzing Risk

Risks can be predicted and mitigated only through well-planned risk management. Risk management is at the core of every project management methodology, including Haploos’. Yet risk management can be an elusive aspect of project planning for success, particularly if project managers lack the time and/or decision-making authority to perform risk assessment

In a 2009 Project Management Survey from the Economist, 48% of respondents said that adhering to project management practices helps them better manage project risks, yet only 26% evaluate how effectively they have identified and managed risks.   

Missing Tangible Results 

Lessons learned from missing the target in either time and/or budget will have a profound effect on the tangible results achieved and the successful management of future projects.

Less than one-half of respondents (48%) measure whether the project had a quantifiable return on investment, 40% evaluate the quality of deliverables, and a mere 25% determine whether the end users are satisfied with the project outcomes.

Companies that decline to conduct more robust measures of project outcome and are not willing to share lessons learned  internally forgo a valuable piece of the project management process.

What did the Project Management Survey reveal about Project Management?

  • 31% of projects fail to deliver on time.
  • 31% of projects fail to deliver within budget.
  • 58% of projects fail to deliver the benefits as set out in the business case.
  • 60% of respondents believe their companies attempt to run too many projects at the same time.
  • 29% of companies measure project progress against a common set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
  • 42% of companies use a standardized approach to the selection and formation of their project teams.
  • 34% of companies use software tools to enable improved project management practice.
  • 29% measure project progress against a common set of key performance indicator.
  • 94% of respondents from UK and Europe say project-based working is of critical importance to their business success, yet just 30% say they successfully deliver projects.
  • 55% of US companies state that project management is not regarded as critical to business success, yet 40% of projects undertaken are successfully delivered.
  • 21% of businesses in Asia Pacific believe project management to be critical to their business success, but projects initiated are unlikely to deliver the desired results: only 18% are delivered on time; 23% to budget.

Silence Fails

The Silence Fails study (Concours Group and Vital Smarts) collected data from more than 1000 executives and project management professionals across 40 companies and a wide variety of industries resulting in these findings.

A senior leader’s success depends upon flawless execution of the business strategy.  In today’s business world, strategy is executed through cross-functional projects such as a major product release, or fast-paced downsizing.  Senior leaders commonly bet company success on these momentous projects.

But these bets rarely pay off as anticipated.  Failure rates can run in excess of 90%, costing hundreds of millions of dollars a year.  In addition to the financial impact, these failures cost careers in shortcomings due to lack of strategic thinking or execution of project plans.

The Silence Fails study found five crucial conversational issues that have a huge impact on projects succeeding as planned.

The study found that even when only one of these crucial conversations fails to occur, the results can lead to project failures 85% of the time. Team morale also suffers when budgets are not met, deadlines are missed and quality falls short of the goal.

The opposite occurs when these conversations succeed – the failure rate reduces by 50-70%.

1. Fact-Free Planning.  A project is set up to fail when deadlines or resource limits are set with no consideration for reality. Eighty-five percent of participants experienced this problem on nearly 40% of their projects.

2. AWOL Sponsors.  A sponsor doesn’t provide leadership, political clout, time or energy to see a project through to completion. Sixty-five percent experienced this on one-third of their projects. Fewer than 12% of those indicated that they could skillfully address this issue.

3. Skirting. People work around the priority-setting process. Approximately 50% of project leaders attempt to speak up on this issue, and of those, only 16% solve the problem.

4.  Project Chicken. Team leaders and members don’t admit when problems exist within a project and wait for someone else to speak up first. While 55% of study participants experienced this problem, fewer than 14% skillfully addressed it.

5.  Team Failures. Team members perpetuate dysfunction when they are unwilling or unable to support the project. Eighty percent of all project leaders encounter team failure, but very few feel able to address this issue, leaving it unaddressed nearly half of the time.

These concerns occur more frequently than most senior managers realize. Many projects encounter more than one of these five failures, and some are plagued by a combination of all five failures.

The good news: leaders can influence success by merely speaking up skillfully and effectively!