The 6 Not-So-Obvious Reasons a Project Plan Fails
Bad projects are expensive. In fact, organizations lose a whopping $109 million for every $1 billion invested in projects and programs, according to a Project Management Institute (PMI) study. And the bigger the projects are, the harder they fall. Large projects are 10 times more likely to fail outright, according to another industry report, and two times more likely to be late, over budget and missing critical features when compared with smaller projects. While small and medium projects may not be quite as fraught with peril, anyone who’s worked on them knows they certainly aren’t without their woes.
So, what are the culprits behind these epic and not-so-epic fails? According to PMI, common causes of project failure range from changing priorities within an organization (40 percent) to limited resources (20 percent). While some may be out of our control as project managers, many are not.
Here are six not-so-obvious reasons why a project plan can quickly go awry:
- Static methods—Today, projects have a lot of moving parts. Whether you work in marketing, HR, IT, manufacturing or any other industry, lack of agility and flexibility can be a death sentence for any project. Agile PM, which has grown alongside the adoption of project management software solutions and applications, has been the trend for a few years now and, according to PM Times, “will become even more vital today and in the future.” According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, Scrum is the most popular (43 percent) Agile framework for completing complex tasks, followed by Lean & Test Driven Development (11 percent) and eXtreme Programming (10 percent). While Agile organizations grow revenue 37 percent faster and generate 30 percent higher profits than non-Agile companies, less than one third of companies report using Agile frequently.
- Low-end software solutions—Purchasing a low-end tool that lacks features over investing in a good software solution is another mistake many companies make. Amazingly, some companies (23 percent) use no project management software at all. But high-performing companies (87 percent) understand the importance of improved efficiency and increased functionality that project management (PM) planning software offers. But not all software is created equally. Successful companies point to reliability, ease of integration and ease of use as being the most important qualities in choosing new project management software. Good software should also work seamlessly across universally popular tools like Office, Office 365, Skype, PowerPoint and SharePoint and offer leading cloud-based PM services to add flexibility and security while easing technical complexity.
- Ineffective juggling of virtual teams—With teams working remotely, often globally, in different time zones, and across various cultures and languages—communication skills and time management have become more critical than ever. Having access to tools that let stakeholders manage on the go and share the latest statuses, conversations and project timelines quickly through a dedicated project site (like those offered by good PM software) keeps everyone connected and organized.
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