A project is a fail if it does not meet the constraints of the project management triangle – Cost, Scope, and Time… why do some charities struggle with project management?
Unclear Project Goals and Objectives
- Project Goals are the aspirations of the client for the project – the project purpose.
- Objectives are the benefits, outcomes, and performance improvements that are expected by the client post-project delivery.
- Project Goals and objectives identify the ‘Vision’ for the project and ‘Why’ it is being done and if these are not clear the PM does not know what the project is trying to accomplish and therefore has no way to measure if it is a success.
- Resolve this by taking the time to work with the client to understand the vision and goals, make them measurable and realistic using frameworks such as SMART. During any project change is inevitable and a good PM will take this in his stride, but the vision should remain and it is key to project success.
An Unrealistic Project Vision
- Disguised as determination or optimism taking on a project that is unrealistic can and will cause ultimate project failure.
- Understating or ignoring the limitations of what your team can accomplish within the required timescales will result in a lack of team morale, deliverables being missed and finally project failure.
- Resolve this by working with your team, they are your experts after all and have the best idea on what can be accomplished in the required time. As a PM, ensure these details are communicated to both internal stakeholders such as the project sponsor and of course the client to ensure alignment in expectations.
Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail…
- If you do not create a project plan, your project will almost certainly fail. However, do not fall into the gap of many companies who believe the PM should be the only one to create the plan or who think the plan is simply a Gant chart showing a timeline.
- The project management plan is created following inputs from the entire project team and key client stakeholders. The input of the team into the plan is vital for building team ownership of the project deliverables and ensures the team is aligned with the solution and has bought into the success of the project.
- A detailed and team built project plan is essential for identifying goals, reducing risk, meeting key dates and milestones, and ultimately delivering a successful project.
- Always ensure you allow enough time to build the plan, do not be impatient or bow to external or internal pressures to move straight to implementation. Planning is a critical phase and getting it wrong will result in regret and rework at the least and ultimately project failure.
Do not forget your client!
- During complex projects, the PM and the team can have a tunnel vision to keeping to the constraints of the project management triangle and forget the importance of building and maintaining relationships with the most important person in any project – the client
- Always identify and understand the client stakeholders. Getting their buy-in for project goals will help reduce conflict of interests and ensure the project stays on track.
- Always remember to Include the client at the beginning of the project and continually involve the client throughout the project so that the required adjustments can be made together
- Remember that It is possible to deliver a project within the required constraints but still have an unsatisfied client. Take time to build client relationships, always ensuring clear project visibility, communication channels and the correct level of stakeholder engagement will lead to project success.
A PM is a specialist position and should not be underrated,
- The Halo effect has become more prominent recently and certainly, in fields such as IT, the effect describes the wrong perception to rate a team member high or low in all the positions within a project team. For example, good performance in Technical areas will make you a good project manager. This has led to complex projects being run by individuals that do not have the training in project management or more importantly have the leadership skills to guide, motivate and direct a team to deliver a successful project. Remember Project Management is more than just working with reports and numbers, it’s about working with people.
- Always ensure your PMs have an ideal combination of technical, leadership, and strategic and business management expertise as set out in the Project Management Institute Talent Triangle. These skills will tilt the scales in favour of project success.
- Setting out the Scope is a key activity of project planning and sets out exactly what the project will deliver and just as importantly what it will not deliver.
- The keyword when protecting the scope is unplanned – unplanned changes or Scope creep are to be guarded against. All projects will experience change and the PM will expect this and manage these via an agreed change process adjusting elements of project delivery such as schedules and costs accordingly to maintain project success.
- When there are elements of the scope that are unknown, use techniques such as Rolling Wave planning to create a specific scope for current activities, a flexible scope for near-term activities, and a High-level scope for future activities. Use phase gates to tighten the scope as you go through the project.
- Work with the client and the project team to clearly define the scope and once agreed, be prepared to protect it at all costs! This means withstanding pressure either internally or from the client to take on unplanned tasks and deliverables that are not part of the scope. Failure to do this will almost certainly lead to project failure,
Smartdesc have a dedicated project team who work with many charities and non-profits. Our Virtual IT Directors and highly experienced Charity Project Managers have great insight in how to run a successful project from the outset all the way through to implementation and monitoring.
Get in touch to discuss or to book a consultation.