Navigating the murky waters of Project Delivery

The Standish CHAOS Report (2009) warns that only 32% of projects are completed on time, within budget and delivered measurable business and stakeholder benefits.  These are important factors, but note they are only three of the success constraints that measure project effectiveness and success.  Also note, that while the 2002 CHAOS report posted better results, the 2004 and 2006 reports posted even lower success ratings.  And there are other reports and studies from around the globe that share even more data and analysis that identify responsible factors and how key participants contribute to failure.  You might ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where are your IT and Services teams positioned on the failure-success continuum?
  • Do you have predictable project outcomes and, perhaps more importantly, do your customers?
  • If more than a few projects undertaken by your organization fall in the 68% majority that do not meet these critical success objectives, do you know what to fix or even where to start looking?

Where one starts examining the opportunities for organizational performance improvement is critical.  Unless there is some compelling reason for you to examine a more systemic problem, taking a direct approach may lead you to the right answers more quickly or at minimum provide a clearer view of the landscape.

If too many of your projects fall into the unsuccessful 68% highlighted in the CHAOS report, I would suggest you begin by assessing your project review process.  Constructive project review processes regularly performed for each project will tell you a lot about your projects and your organization along with its overall process maturity.  More importantly, you will get a concrete picture of what is not going well.  You may not immediately learn why, but you will be able to build a list what areas need further assessment and perhaps see a pattern as to when in the project cycle the issues are likely to occur.

Here are a few project reviews that I have successfully used and integrated into the process map for my organizations:

  • Project Initiation Review – Is everything in place and properly setup before the project starts to ensure a successful outcome?
  • Weekly Project Status Review – How are project schedule and cost tracking to project plan?
  • Project Milestone Review – Does each completed project milestone meet all the established criteria from the specification and quality standards for your organization?

There are many project and process reviews recommended by project management best practices that can be used to assess project performance and its likelihood to succeed or fail.  Selecting the right ones for your practice and implementing them to an appropriate level will determine how effective they will be for you.

A Project Delivery assessment could be the best place for you to start evaluating your project capabilities and to establish where to begin transforming your project delivery capabilities.  Specific project reviews are only a subset of the process recommendations that might benefit your service teams and their overall delivery performance.


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