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Why Do Projects Succeed or Fail? Discover what Really Makes a Difference

project management

Mark Woeppel - September 24, 2014

Instead of Changing Plans, Change Behaviors
For too long, project managers have believed that the right planning leads to the right results.

Yet time after time, independent research shows that the current approach to project management fails to produce the outcomes managers expect – and clients want. Researchers report:

– A staggering 39% of IT projects with budgets over $10 million USD fail.
– Only 2.5% of the companies successfully complete their projects.
– 44% of IT projects run over budget, 7% run over time, and 56% deliver less value than expected.
– Most other projects typically overrun the schedule by almost 70%.

What’s Going Wrong?
Despite the emphasis on better planning processes and improving project skills, project performance is not getting better.

We know that between planning and execution, there is a gap – a wide gap. Inside that gap, there are conflicting priorities…a multiplicity of tasks in progress…a misalignment between what is measured and what is meaningful…a failure to identify and adjust for risks…undetected obstacles and bottlenecks that block progress…and more ground-level factors that have not been, and cannot be addressed by planning alone.

The key to improving project performance is not planning, but execution – creating and sustaining a culture where the right processes and behaviors deliver consistent, quantifiable results.

However, there is a gap between project execution practice and project execution knowledge. It is relatively unexplored area in the project management body of knowledge. For organizations that want to improve their performance, there are three questions:
– Is there a best execution practices?
– What are the principles we can employ?
– How do we put them into practice?

Fortunately, the processes and behaviors to deliver consistent results are well defined and quantified, forming the Project Execution Maturity Model.

The Model proposes three levels of execution capability:
– Basic Collaboration,
– Improved Coordination, and
– Integrated Planning and Execution

Each level of maturity is a reflection of the organization’s capability to manage activity and time, from local teams and the now to remote teams and portfolio life.

Collaboration During Execution
The main emphasis of Basic Collaboration is task velocity or flow. Improved Coordination emphasizes meeting deadlines and extends capabilities to remote work groups. Once an organization has established a foundation of appropriate behaviors and focused communications, Integrated Planning and Execution focuses on creating and executing detailed, optimized plans.

Achieving greater maturity drives greater value. Our firm’s research since 2011 shows that moving from ad-hoc to Basic Collaboration significantly increases financial performance:

– Productivity increases by more than 20%.
– The rate of value creation (project completion) grows by nearly 30%.
– Significant gains in on-time deliver performance are achieved.

Similarly, further gains can be found as the organization moves to Improved Coordination and Integrated Planning and Execution.

In the next few blog posts, I identify the twelve elements that drive effective project execution excellence, giving you a measurable means to assess your status, to target areas of improvement, and to make meaningful progress in the way you deliver projects. Get a preview and learn more by reading our free eBook “Why Do Projects Succeed or Fail? Discover What Really Makes a Difference.”

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