Three reasons why projects fail

Introduction

Most of us have seen examples of failed projects at some point in our careers. Some of us have been fortunate to take lessons from others, and some of us have learned the hard way.

The three most common reasons why projects fail are:

1. Unclear priorities

2. No visibility to other teams

3. Concerns not reported early on

1. Unclear priorities can cause project teams to have false starts.

Take John, for instance, he works as the Director of Marketing for a mid-sized consumer goods company. After returning from a marketing conference in Las Vegas, John is excited to implement a new social media marketing tool that can boost web traffic significantly. It is hard not to be thrilled. John’s colleagues in the industry seem to be raving about it too. However, for the past three months, John’s team has been heads down on a re-branding campaign. The problem is that John’s team is small and can only focus on one big project at a time. Should John pause the re-branding campaign and implement the new marketing tool?

The answer is “it depends”. Only if John had a clear framework to prioritize projects and manage the intake of new work. John could weigh the attractiveness of both the projects, estimate the cost of delay, and assess the degree of change management needed. After doing all that, John would need to estimate the overall ROI, and present his case to the leadership team. Without that, John’s team will likely face significant challenges in getting either of the projects completed.

2. Having no visibility of planned and ongoing projects in other teams can pose a risk to your initiatives.

Take Sarah for example, she is excited about launching a Supply Planning software that will bring significant benefits. However, there is a learning curve associated with the new software and the re-engineered business process flows and SOPs. As per the current project plan, the Supply Planning software launch happens to coincide with the re-branding campaign led by John from marketing. If all goes well, the new marketing campaign could boost sales by 25%. However, the additional orders could overwhelm the supply chain team. Imagine learning how to use a new software while dealing with an influx of new orders that need to be shipped to customers on time!

Should Sarah have checked with John to assess the cross-project interdependencies? Wouldn’t it be great for Sarah and John to see a roadmap view of all the enterprise projects? Could John and Sarah have perhaps cascaded the two projects to reduce the disruption to their teams?

3. Concerns are often not reported early on.

Typically, project delays and risks can be mitigated if bubbled up to leadership sooner. Take Raj, for example, he needs to hire on contract two full-stack engineers to build an IT helpdesk application. However, the contract has been stuck in legal review for weeks. The project has been kicked off but the development work hasn’t begun yet. Should Raj seek help from the procurement and legal team? Perhaps, help them understand the impact of delay in approving the contract? Should Raj report the project health as Red and raise the blocker in a cross-enterprise weekly status meeting?

How we can help

The pain points above often stem from project teams working in silos, and the lack of an overall portfolio intake and governance structure. Traditional PMOs can be heavy touch and can slow down the flow of work. To solve that problem, we have launched Laminar, a PMO as-a-service offering with in-built best practices of Fortune 500 clients. We offer a complete solution to manage the 3Ps — portfolios, programs, and projects. Laminar is a pure plug-and-play solution that can be configured in less than a week and sits atop your current project management tools — purposefully designed to be low-maintenance and fully automated so that you can focus on running the business.

Visit us at www.gravitasconsulting.com/laminar to learn more and schedule a demo.

Sign-up for a free three months pass at www.gravitasconsulting.com/laminarbeta

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Gravitas Consulting

Gravitas Consulting

Gravitas is a Toronto-based strategy and operations consulting firm. We deliver outcomes. Visit us at www.gravitasconsulting.com.