Friday, May 13, 2016

What We Can Do

Just to re-cap, I am taking a deeper look into what we can do to prevent projects going wrong. But let's start with the reason why projects fail.

Why Projects Fail
covered this in a post in June 2015 but I need to add one bit of clarification on project failure. Stopping a project that is in danger of going badly wrong or failing is not a project failure, it is good project management. Allowing a project go wrong and fail is poor project management. I hope you can see the distinction.

Now projects may fail for a number of different reasons but all of these reasons can be addressed by a good project manager. If a project fails it is due to one thing alone: poor project management. So having addressed that, let's look at what we can do about it. I originally proposed four steps or areas we need to consider (I simplified it down to three steps in the white paper but will expand it back to four areas now) and these are: (1) the project managers, (2) the business, (3) the projects, and (4) project reviews. So this week let's look at our project managers.

Project Managers
In my experience an awful lot of project managers get thrown into it with little or no training, often because they are available and can be spared by the business. Now ask yourself if these people are likely to make good project managers. Surely if they were any good they would already be critical to the business and not available for running projects!

So we need to take a good look at all our project managers and identify whether or not they have the necessary skill set and basic ability to run projects. This means carrying out a thorough appraisal by someone who knows and understands what project management is all about, a good project manager, and that might not be the project manager's current line manager (we will address this when we look at the business next week). 

If we can establish that the project manager does probably have the basic ability to run a project, then we can identify any development needs and provide them with the required training. But more importantly we can assign them a mentor, who of necessity must be a wise (and therefore successful) project manager themselves. 

If on the other hand the project manager doesn’t have the basic ability to manage projects, then we need to move them to somewhere else in the organisation where they can do less harm. Sounds brutal but they should never have been moved into a project management position in the first place if they didn't have the basic ability. 

In a nutshell a successful project manager needs to have good planning, organisational, leadership and communication skills. These can be developed through training but they need to have the basic ability in the first place.

Next week we will look at the business and what it can do to make all this happen.

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