Improving Project Management
An issue of CIO Magazine reports that half of A.G. Edwards' 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:
- 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.
- Be specific about what it takes for a project to be considered a success. And communicate these expectations to everyone.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Look for ways to establish joint accountability between project managers and functional managers. This probably means having them work more closely together.
- Monitor and report on project progress. Also, hold people accountable for completing projects successfully.
- 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.