There are a number of factors behind IT project failures, but one of the most fundamental things I look at when being assigned a failing project and to assist in the project turn around is to review the communication plan in place. I’ve found when a project is failing there is usually a breakdown in communication – it could be at the partner level, staff level, management or even with the project stakeholder. A pretty rough statistic I’ve seen about business transformation projects is that only 30% succeed but, fortunately, this number has been improving the past few years (McKinsey & Company, 2019). I believe that this improvement is directly tied to the increasing use of agile in the project management field.
At the partner level we like to manage our projects using an agile approach. By nature this means a lot of meetings but many are intended to be short, 3-5 minute daily checkpoints (aka a daily stand up or a daily scrum). During these daily stand ups each of the team members join and advise what they have accomplished over the previous 24 hours, their goals and objectives for the next 24 hours, and if there are any blocks in achieving those goals. The Project Manager will then help remove the blocks or impediments for the team member so they can move forward with their tasks. These daily calls keep the project moving at the intended pace.
More detailed status meetings are held monthly where the project manager will review the scope that has been completed and tie that back to the budget. Usually this more detailed status reporting is done with the client-side Program Sponsor or Executive Stakeholder since they are more concerned about the project at a macro level.
When a project is failing, as a Project Manager, I will check to see if 1) the daily stand up and monthly status meeting communication method is in place or 2) what other part of the communication plan isn’t working. Identifying what issues are preventing the success of the project and then crafting an approach that is custom for each project is what the Project Manager has been trained to do. Sometimes it’s communication, and that could mean altering the standard agile communication plan. Other times that means implementing a communication plan in the first place. Regardless, if you feel your project isn’t moving forward at the proper pace, ask for a Project Manager to be assigned to help. Nothing makes me happier than being asked to join a project that is floundering and then helping the team take the project to the finish line successfully.
Please reach out to me if you have any questions on how to get a project back on track. Darin@adv-usa.com.
Kelly, Greg. “The ‘How’ of Transformation.” McKinsey & Company, 2019, www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/the-how-of-transformation