Why Your Project Might be Failing

Is your project going OK? Are you sure? Often project managers think their project is progressing to plan and by the time they realize that something is wrong it is too late to implement corrective actions and get the project back on track.

Here’s a quick health check that you can carry out on your project. Run through these 6 points and see if your project is at risk from failing.

1. You Don’t Have A Project Plan

You do have a detailed project task list, don’t you? A task list forms the foundation of your project schedule, and this is critical so that everyone knows what they need to be working on when. Each task should have a designated owner. Having one person responsible for a task, even if several people end up working on it, ensures that it doesn’t slip through the cracks as somebody else’s problem.

Your project plan should also include dates: when a task is due to start, when it is due to finish and any milestones throughout the different phases of your project to provide you with some checkpoints. If you don’t have all this on your schedule, update it now using your online project planning software so that you don’t run the risk of a poor or non-existent plan causing your project to fail.

2. You Don’t Collaborate

Projects are done by teams, and if you aren’t working well with yours then you need to start thinking about collaboration techniques so that you can improve the relationships on the team. Use collaboration software to share tasks and documents, send instant messages and have discussions with your team mates.

Collaboration is a great way to improve productivity, decision-making and trust on the project team and it also means you don’t have to do all the work yourself!

3. You Aren’t Tracking Expenses

You may be hitting all your project milestones and deliveringnot tracking expenses against your project objectives, but how much is it costing you? Your project could be a failure for being over budget. You should be tracking project expenses to ensure this doesn’t happen.

It’s not difficult to track project expenses. Many software tools have the functionality to do this for you. As you should be approving all the invoices and keeping tabs on what is being spent, all you need to do is record that information somewhere centrally and compare it against what you forecasted to spend. If your forecast matches your actual spend, you’re doing OK!

4. You Aren’t Managing Risk

All projects suffer from risk, and it’s not always possible to predict what is going to affect your project in advance. That’s why project managers should identify as many risks as they can at the beginning of the project. Then work with your team to establish a plan of action to address the risks. This could be anything from doing nothing through to spending a lot of money making sure the risk never happens.

Capture all your risks and action plans in a risk log, and make sure that each risk has an owner who is responsible for seeing through the actions and guaranteeing they are done. You can even use your project management tools to produce risk reports that show the status of each of the project risks.

Projects fail when large risks come along that nobody thought about. While you don’t have a crystal ball and you can’t see into the future, you can do some risk management and planning to give your project team the opportunity to head off any risks before they become too much of a problem.

5. You Accept Every Change

You don’t accept every change that someone suggests, do you? This is the fastest way to ensure that your project never finishes at all! While most of the changes that will be suggested by your stakeholders are completely valid and will be good, solid recommendations for improvements, you simply can’t do them all and still manage to complete your project on time and on budget.

It isn’t your job to approve or reject changes – that’s the role of the project sponsor. However, you should be making a recommendation about whether it is practical to integrate any change. You can do some analysis to work out whether it will take more time or resources to incorporate a particular change, and if it doesn’t (or if the benefit outweighs the extra investment) then recommend to your sponsor that the change is approved.

6. You Aren’t Managing Stakeholders

Stakeholders are those people who have an interestnot managing stakeholders in the project or the outcome. For example, they are your project customers and internal colleagues who are working on, benefiting from or assisting with your project.

Stakeholders can make or break a project, because they have the power to say whether or not it is fit for purpose. It’s no good spending lots of time delivering something that you think is amazing only to find out that it’s not what your stakeholders want. That’s a waste of everyone’s time and money. So you need to work with stakeholders constantly to make certain that you have met their needs.

Use project reports to communicate with stakeholders as well. They will have more confidence in you and the project if they receive regular communications about what is working well and what you are doing about the things that aren’t going so well.

Of course, projects fail for lots of different reasons, but if you address these 6 issues you will be well on the way to making sure that your project doesn’t fail because you didn’t do something right. Being a good project manager is all about seeing off problems and giving your project the best possible chance of success. Dealing with these 6 problems will give you a clear run at success, so go back to your project documentation and software now and check that you are doing everything you can to avoid failure!

culled from www.projectmanager.com

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