Preparing for Success

In the first installment of our five part series on projects and achieving success, we're going to focus on the real foundation for project success: people. Not very earthshattering or new information you say? We believe equipping your project teams for the challenges ahead in a project, whether large or small, is the key foundational step towards success. Leaders must provide and incent measured risk taking, innovation, setting and reaching common goals as a team.

Industry experts have released a number of “think pieces” using statistics that make us wonder why an organization would ever want to embark on any type of project. Studies proclaiming negative results like “The annual cost of IT project failure worldwide is $6.2 Trillion (US)”[1] and “one in six IT projects are ‘Black Swans’ with 200% or greater cost overruns and 70% schedule slips”[2] abound on the internet.  Does it really make sense to dwell on the high probability of a project’s failure? We believe the answer is a resounding no! Planning for success requires organizations to prepare the participants for positive outcomes, not an expectation for these doomsday predictions to become reality.

We find your best return on investment will be to build out project teams with the best qualified people available - period. Recognize and accept that with mentoring, training, the best tools and processes available, there will be talent gaps. In those cases, don’t fill the gaps with less than qualified resources. Bringing in outside subject matter expertise is not an admission of failure, rather a commitment to project success. Supplying your project teams with the knowledge, tools and the right combination of expertise will be the best preventive steps to ward off the dreaded Black Swans and other project failures in general.

In our next installment, we will examine the importance of establishing current and future state business process before embarking on a project. Until next time - Carpe diem.

[1] Sessions, Roger “The IT Complexity Crisis: Danger and Opportunity.” November 8, 2009.

[2] Flyvbjerg, Bent and Budzier, Alexander “Why Your IT Project May Be Riskier Than You Think.” Harvard Business Review. November 2011.