An article over on Outsource Magazine on Project Delusion summarized research from a group that has been tracking UK project management for more than a decade. This group, which has seen budget overrun recently climb from 18% to 27%, investigated the minority of projects that ran more than 200% over original projections. When the causes of deviation from the plan were analyzed, the following major contributors were found:
- Missing Focus
Specifically, unclear objectives, poor requirements, and a lack of business focus.
- Execution Issues
Specifically, unclear objectives and reactive planning.
- Content Issues
Specifically, shifting requirements and uncontrolled technical complexity.
- Skill Issues
Specifically, an unaligned team, lack of skills, experience, and resource.
That’s why you should never start a project until
- The Goals Are Clearly Defined
along with the metrics that will be used to measure against them.
- Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans Have Been Defined
along with processes and procedures for creating new plans for unexpected situations.
- Change Request Procedures Are Clearly Defined
so that requirements don’t shift and technical complexity does not spiral out of control.
- Proper Training is Provided Before the Product Starts
so that team has the right training, is led by the right experience, is aware of, and able to use, the resources at their disposal, and have what it takes to align toward the project goals.
Also, you should adopt some best practices based on lessons learned. Four best practices, as detailed in the article, include:
- Manage strategy and stakeholders.
- Master technology and the business.
- Excel at core project management practices (as defined in the PMBOK).
- Fail quickly and cheaply.
For details, see the great article on Project Delusion in Outsource Magazine.