10 project management habits to guarantee failure

Many experts believe that, even with the best efforts, a project only has a 50% chance of succeeding (and that’s thought to be a liberal estimate).

But there are project management habits which will almost certainly result in a project failing and, of course, most project managers will have heard numbers like this before. It’s no real secret that project achievement is low – but, all too often it can be the project managers themselves that are unknowingly guaranteeing project failure.

By identifying ‘pain points’ that stem from project manager behaviour, you can take adequate measures to increase your project success rate.

Here are our top 10 behaviors which will ensure project failure:

1 – “Methodology Police” tactics

All too often, the PMO becomes the “Methodology Police” – tasked with enforcing methodologies rigorously (even when they don’t fit the project requirements).  Naturally, this can lead to complaints from project managers – or even worse, a revolt, where the methodology is ignored entirely. This can create frictions – PMOs can lose visibility and projects can fail due to a lack of support.

2 – Implementing a methodology… without a framework

PMOs may try to implement a Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) across their organization – which can be good for some software development teams, but not appropriate for infrastructure and process improvement teams. A better approach is an all-encompassing project management framework, sometimes known as a PDLC (Project Development Life Cycle) with key controlling elements such as business case, project schedule and status report.

3 – Failing to implement a methodology

Although an adequate framework is essential, the methodology is vital to ensure consistency of project execution and to reduce any risks arising from inexperienced project managers. New-to-the-job project managers may struggle with elements of project planning, the assignment of work or risk assessments – and this can lead to problems further down the line. To this end, methodology (or even several under a framework) is essential.

4 – Not aligning demand to supply

Focus in steering committee meetings is almost always on prioritization. Although this is generally a good thing, without a metrics-based understanding of resource capacity, it can be virtually impossible to match demand with the actual supply.

5 – Failing to log time adequately

This is more common than you would think! If the time spent on projects and other work isn’t adequately tracked, it is impossible to know a department’s true capacity. Planning then becomes guesswork – which is a less than ideal scenario.

6 – Collating unnecessary information

PMOs are great at gathering all kinds of statistics – however, if that information is not then used in the decision-making process, it becomes a redundant waste of time, burdening the project team, without generating useful results.

7 – Adhoc project request processes

One of the most common ways to deal with new project requests is to analyze them individually and decide if each one merits becoming a new project – however, what happens to the other requests – where is the prioritization? If requests are evaluated in isolation, a low priority project may overshadow a more important task. The solution is cyclical request cycles – a process of considering all requests side-by-side, on a regular basis.

8 – Lack of executive support

This tends to happen a lot – the executive team will realise that there is a problem with a project not executing properly, asking for too few resources, or simply not delivering results, therefore they authorize a PMO to solve the problem. Then, when the steering committee meeting arrives, they send lower-level functionaries and don’t give them decision-making authority or – worse still – they over-ride PMO decisions. Should the project then continue to perform poorly, blame will be cast at the PMO and the project will be disbanded.

9  – Implementing a tool… without a process

Regardless of whether you are implementing a PPM solution or an ERP system – if bad or non-existent processes are automated, problems will knock on your door! IT departments in particular are often guilty of thinking that the tool is the whole solution – but it’s a very common mistake across all organizations.

10 – Implementing a process… without a tool

And vice-versa – the general consensus is to get a process together before automating it with a tool – but this can also lead to problems. Complex processes, run on spreadsheets and documents, can cause a burden and eventually become detrimental to adoption. The best solution is to implement the process and tool at the same time – this allows you to design the new process to take advantage of the chosen software tool’s strengths. Your new process has the best chance of adoption if it is streamlined and automated right from the start – however, you will need to be aware that, if something does go wrong, you will need to diagnose if it is a process or tool issue.

Off Peak Training can help you to avoid these common pitfalls and worst practices, take a look at our all-inclusive course today: https://www.offpeaktraining.com/project_management-professional_pmp_training/


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