Businesses of all sizes embark on thousands of projects for new products and services every year. Unfortunately, most projects are doomed too fail outright, or at launch, because the original success criteria were not met. Some project failures lead to delays in product launches, such as the AirBus A380; others, incur huge cost overruns. These examples, as well as the results from survey after survey, show that businesses have not been able to figure out how to consistently get products and services delivered on time, on budget and with the highest quality.
Why is that?
Businesses invest a great deal each year in people, consultants, processes and technology to improve project success rates, but to no avail. Don't get me wrong, there are individual examples of excellence, and success rates have improved over the years, but there has not been the kind of dramatic increase that one would expect given the size of the investments businesses have made.
The bottom line is, businesses can talk a good game, but the majority are not ready or willing to make the "true" investments needed to achieve meaningful change--the type of change that will deliver on time, on budget, and with high quality near 100 percent of the time. There are eight steps that, if followed as a single unit and truly embraced by the entire organization, provide the roadmap to project management perfection.
It is critical to start with a solid foundation. The foundation must be built at the organizational level and not with individuals. It is imperative that, from the CEO down, there is understanding and buy-in when it comes to defining or redefining the following items:
* Roles and Responsibilities: This can be painstaking, but the effort will pay off when it's time to execute. The exercise may outline the need to develop new organizational structures to better support efficiency and communication within the delivery teams.
* Standards: The creation of a project management methodology will allow for consistency in delivery and terminology. An added benefit can be bringing new employees on board who rapidly move up the learning curve and thereby provide immediate value.
* Policies: Having a set standard and a consistent methodology provides the platform to document and enforce policies. It's difficult to document when things are moving quickly and always changing, but taking the time to do so will provide benefits such as improved control measures. Performing audits allows you to proactively identify risks and gives you the ability to mitigate them before they turn into a true problem.
It's important to know where and when to make investments to achieve the goals of the business. Unfortunately, there are always more ideas than there are resources to execute them. Therefore, organizations need to formalize a process for evaluating which new projects should be approved. The process must define the decision-making criteria that will be used during the evaluation, and also take into consideration the firm's capacity and capabilities to successfully deliver the projects.
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