Improving Project Management

An issue of CIO Magazine reports that half of A.G. Edward's IT projects were late and over budget. And they weren't the exception. A report by the Standish Group indicates that 71% of all IT projects were completed late, over budget, or with reduced functionality from the original specs. Similarly, a global survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers of small and large companies found that half of the projects these companies engaged in failed.

Fortunately for A.G. Edwards, the numbers have improved. They now indicate an 88% project success rate. That's a remarkable improvement even if it did take 5 years to accomplish. Here's a list of 8 items that helped them achieve such a high success rate:

  1. Start by identifying current project success rates and making these numbers publicly available to IT staff. People need to acknowledge that there is a problem. In addition, these metrics will form a base for future comparisons.
  2. Be specific about what it takes for a project to be considered a success. And communicate these expectations to everyone.
  3. Address potential shortcomings with managers by providing them with some leadership training. Aside from learning new skills, such training can boost confidence and improve credibility.
  4. Make sure IT staff are familiar with the project management methodologies that are already in place or those that are going to be in introduced as part of the improvement process.
  5. Make sure business users are familiar with the methodology for delivering projects. They should ideally be on board with existing processes as well as new ones being introduced.
  6. Look for ways to establish joint accountability between project managers and functional managers. This probably means having them work more closely together.
  7. Monitor and report on project progress. Also, hold people accountable for completing projects successfully.
  8. Encourage project managers to improve their communication skills and to communicate with project sponsors and stakeholders more often. In addition, have project managers report on the business value that a project is providing and not just the latest schedule and costs.
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3 Comments

  1. Marios Alexandrou

    Tako, Projects quickly increase in complexity as they grow in size. A 6 month project isn't necessarily going to be twice as hard as a 3 month project -- it might be four times as hard. Bigger projects also have a greater chance of going off track and when that happens it requires a skilled individual to correct. I would recommend that you continue to express an interest in project management and continue to be enthusiastic about even small projects. Eventually your successes will be noticed and that should bring you more challenges.

  2. I have been working as a Project Manager for only 3 months. I have already done some projects -- not big but very interesting for me. Now I want to get a big project. How can I make my employer see me as the best project manager in my company?

    • Project Management is all about understanding the requirements well, ability to lead a team and follow PMI guidelines 100%. It includes the documentation to be used, follow Project Plan to the core, keep your stakeholders informed and diligently monitor risks. If you can demonstrate or articulate the same to your management as your approach, I dont see why you cannot be approached for a large project. Also as your experience is/was 3 months, maybe they want you to be more experienced or manage smaller projects and then during your review will be rewarded. PMOs in organizations do not assure PM a success but improve but most PMO have inexperienced PMs or uncertified PMs leading to sometimes poor monitoring and escalation when needed.

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