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Success With Project Closure
Project Management: Back to Basics—Why Do IT Projects Fail?
By Mushtari Afroz
This article was originally published by Info-Tech Research Group. Copyright (c) 1998-2008 Info-Tech Research Group. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
The failure rates of IT projects are well publicized. Biennial studies by The Standish Group found that, in 2006, 65% of IT projects failed or were challenged ("challenged" projects were those which did not satisfy all criteria for success but delivered useful products at the end).
Business leaders consider a project successful based on several criteria. The ones most commonly used are:
- adherence to scope,
- stakeholder's and management satisfaction,
- quality of deliverables,
- project timeliness, and
- budget variance.
A recent survey of 227 organizations conducted by Info-Tech Research Group on project management revealed that even though most considered the above criteria very important, very few rated their performance as very successful against those critieria.
Figure 1. Importance of and Success in Project Performance Measurement Criteria
Source: Info-Tech Research Group
*Importance measurement is based on the % of respondents that indicated that the given criteria are important.
**Success measurement is based on the % of respondents that indicated they were very successful at the given criteria.
Failing to keep the project on time, on budget or within scope is very common in IT. This makes stakeholders frustrated with the project, withdraw their commitment, and then issues become surprises. By being aware of the early signals that separate a failing project from a successful one, a project manager can save the organization from significant losses.
What Is A Project Charter?
A Project Charter defines a project's scope, purpose, individual responsibilities and deliverables.
- Project purpose: List of problems that the project intends to solve and the expected business values.
- Project scope: List of tasks that will be performed during the project; scope change procedures.
- Project plan: Project title, timing, organization, individual responsibilities, communication standards, milestoes, budget, deliverables.
1. Check that the team, stakeholders and management are on the same page. A clear indication that project goals and plans have not been well communicated is when project participants work to achieve goals that differ from those of management.
If such a situation arises,
Pause the project to clarify understanding and reaffirm commitment.
Make use of a project charter to communicate the purposes, objectives and deliverables of the project at the outset, and throughout the project.
2. Keep communicating. Communication plays a vital role throughout the project lifecycle. Signs that project communications are ineffective for stakeholders include:
Stakeholders receiving project updates seldom read or respond to them.
Poor attendance at status meetings.
Signs that project communications are ineffective for team members include:
- Poorly organized or irregular team meetings where accomplishments, progress, delays and issues are discussed;
- Team members who do not understand the roles and responsibilities of fellow team members; and
- Team members who do not understand project status and issue resolution plans.
Ineffective communications will cause the project to suffer from poor co-ordination.
Revisit the communication plan to identify why stakeholders are losing interest in the project, and why team members are not working unitedly to achieve the project goal.
Make changes if necessary to reaffirm stakeholders' and team members' commitment to the project and their respective roles in making sure the project delivers what is expected.
Next: Warning Signs 3 And 4