Moving Beyond A Failed Project

Moving Beyond A Failed Project

Insights | 13 March 2013

It is common during times of economic downturn and uncertainty for businesses to reduce headcount in order to save money. Sound logic as workplace productivity typically increases during economic downturn. However the PMO can become challenged as under-staffed projects can lead to missed deliverables, costly delays or at worst, complete project failure. The reality of the PMO is that the most cost-effective solution is to ensure appropriate and adequate resources are allocated before commencing any project.

So how do you move beyond a failed project? How do you learn from that disheartening experience and ensure it doesn’t happen again? Below are some of the most common lessons learnt from project failure.

Less isn’t always more

Attempts to staff projects with fewer people will invariably backfire, as fatigue and stress take their toll on your employees. Adding extra resources later in the project can even disrupt the productivity of the project team. For a project to succeed, it pays to invest the time and effort to effectively plan and justify adequate resources.

Competing /conflicting work priorities and Directives

Support from executive management is paramount to your projects success. If buy-in from affected managers isn’t obtained, a poor outcome is to be expected. If executive management doesn’t support the project, they will direct their staff away from executing it and prioritize work that fits their own individual objectives. This usually results in a battle between day-to-day responsibilities and new, extra duties needed to execute the project. Before undertaking any project, ensure all necessary executive management approval has been achieved.

Insufficient Quality Assurance

There usually is a significant delay between cause and effect, particularly in long-term projects. This can have a major impact on the success of the project if flaws are not identified until the last minute or after a solution can be easily implemented. To ensure this doesn’t occur, set up a completely separate quality assurance function at the onset of any major assignment and provide incentives for project team members to identify and communicate problems, not hide them.

Non-Existent Feedback

People require feedback to keep them motivated and to ensure they are meeting expectations. If feedback isn’t given regularly or delayed, this can have a detrimental effect on morale especially if the project is challenging or frustrating. Therefore all PMO members need to understand the importance of what they’re doing and receive a constant stream of support and feedback from their leader. By systematically creating feedback loops of your working system, it provides insights that can salvage your current project, or guarantee that your next one will be a success.

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