There are many statistics on project success (or failure) and unfortunately they don’t make for pleasant reading.
A study published in the Harvard Business Review, which analysed 1,471 IT projects, found that the average overrun was 27%, but one in six projects had a cost overrun of 200% on average and a schedule overrun of almost 70%.
At ArrowPM what we find even more frustrating is the number of “project post mortems” that show that many of these failures could easily have been avoided. This is one of the reasons we created the ArrowPM Project Effectiveness Review to help clients work out what state their projects are actually in, and to suggest practical ways to prevent these projects ending up as costly failures.
The review, through the use of a comprehensive set of questions, takes a holistic look at all areas of a project or programme. It examines alignment to the vision and strategies of the organisation right through to the tools and templates that are in use. It rates the project management maturity in each of the 7 key areas: Strategic Alignment; Definition & Scope; Planning; Stakeholders & Governance; Delivery & Reporting; Resources & Infrastructure; and Tools & Standards.
It highlights the implications of issues in each area and gives practical actions that you can take to put your project back on track.
Some clients use the Project Effectiveness Review to understand ways to improve the effectiveness of their projects. Others use it to measure their project management maturity and how it changes over time and across projects.
The seven areas of the Project effectiveness review:
1. Strategic alignment
Successful projects change an organisation by delivering or enabling a strategy to realise a vision. A key project foundation is therefore an organisation with a well-defined vision, a clear strategy and a roadmap to achieve it. This needs to be supported by an environment that is receptive and conducive to change.
2. Definition and scope
Successful projects have very clear and concise definitions of their objectives and what success looks like. They are supported by a realistic, prioritised and achievable set of benefits and associated costs which are all captured within a business case. All of which should be kept up to date throughout the project duration.
Planning is the process of turning the project objective into a set of instructions that can be delivered and reported on by a project manager. A good project plan is much more than just a schedule and contains a complete blueprint of how the project should be managed.
4. Stakeholders and governance
Stakeholders are people who are impacted by a project. Governance is how authority is delegated and decisions are made. An effective project ensures the right decisions are made by the right people with the right information at the right time, thus balancing the needs of the project, the stakeholders and the organisation.
5. Delivering and reporting
This covers all project management processes that occur during the actual execution of the project. This is where all of the preparatory work from the other sections comes together to delivers an effective and successful project, i.e. one which achieves its objectives and realises its benefits, within the constraints of cost and quality.
6. Resources and infrastructure
This includes all processes and activities involved in making sure that the right people are available to work on the project at the right time with the right skills, it covers external suppliers as well as internal resources. If the plan is complete and accurate then strong performance in this area will ensure resources are not an issue.
7. Tools and standards
This area looks at the project methodology used, the sets of tools and templates for deliverables and processes along with tools to assist in teamwork and collaborative working. It is possible to have a successful project with weaknesses in this area, but a strong performance certainly makes things easier and more efficient.
“What we have done with the Project Effectiveness Review is to take our combined project management experience and distill it into the key things that lead to a successful project and the telltale signs of potential problems. This is all part of a single diagnostic tool that can help clients deliver successful projects & programmes”