Sunday, November 19, 2006

Communication failures

Each company has put in place more or less complex procedures for a smooth project management for all their projects. They have procedures for planning, procedures for monitoring and control, procedures for risk management and, of course, for project communication.

What most of the companies fail to manage is the actual human side of the communication, the way of communicating the problems and the way managers react to problems.

In a study conducted by VitalSmarts and The Concours Group, named Silence Fails: The Five Crucial Conversations for Flawless Execution, more than 1,000 executives and
project management professionals across 40 companies in a wide variety of industries were surveyed.

The study pointed out five undiscussable issues that are the most prevalent and most costly barriers to project success, including:
1) fact-free planning – a project is set up to fail with deadlines or resource limits that are set with no consideration for reality, a flaw almost no one discusses effectively;
2) absent without leave (AWOL) sponsors – the sponsor doesn’t provide leadership, political clout, time or energy to see a project through to completion, and those depending on him or her don’t effectively address the sponsor’s failures;
3) skirting – people work around the priority-setting process and are not held accountable for doing so;
4) project chicken – team leaders and members don’t admit when there are problems with a project but wait for someone else to speak up first; and
5) team failures – team members perpetuate dysfunction when they are unwilling or unable to support the project, and team leaders are reluctant to discuss their failures with them candidly.

How many times did you see these signs in your projects and your project team, too?... Can we fix it?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

OK, let's stop this project

I have recently read an article about stopping a project. Although it may be common sense, you should always consider that your project might not be successful (especially at its early beginning, when the risks are higher and uncertainaties are plenty of).

And here you are, in the middle of your project, and you start thinking that you should close it. Where did you got this idea? Maybe...
- your resources have been moved to more "glamorous" projects
- maybe your sponsor has changed opinion, or was fired, or just lost his decision power
- maybe the product of the project is no longer required by the customer (be it an internal customer, or a market sector)
- maybe you can no longer control the technology, as it was too new when you started, and it now proves to be cumbersome
- maybe because you are losing money from this project, instead of making
- the focus of the company has changed, and this project does no longer fit into the strategy
- project performance is too low
- other external conditions may have changed to lead to project termination.

All these are potential reasons, and if you notice some of these simptoms in your project, then you should really consider cancelling it before losing too much on it.

In one of the next postings, I will try to talk also on how to do this so that nobody hurts!!

And in the mean time, please visit our bookstore: