Projects On The Edge

Marine Week Boston, 2010: Bell-Boeing MV-22B O...

Image by Chris Devers via Flickr

Just how often is it that projects that you are working on or have a relationship seem to be on the edge of failure? Probably the answer to this question is more often than not.  Not the best situation to be in or advert for the ever-increasing number of qualified project professionals.  So what’s going wrong and what can be done about it?

Clients Don’t Know What They Asked For

It doesn’t matter how long you take to get confirmation on a defined set of requirements with clients there will always be some level of discussion on progress and final delivery.  This is to be expected for anything other than a straightforward retail transaction.  Projects will always have uncertainty with them and clients can only focus on what they want to achieve with the delivered product or service.

Answer – make sure the client is kept involved in the progress of the project as it evolves from design through to testing and delivery.  Never under-estimate the effort and time required to do this properly; it’s at least as important as the project development effort itself.

The Business Imperative Changes

The business environment is changing at an increasing rate.  But projects have to deliver to a defined set of requirements that have been frozen at a point in time within a certain set of business parameters.  Strong individuals will be supporting projects and perhaps their own reputations will rise or fall on the project’s success.  If the project is delivered successfully but is no longer required there will be a great number of questions to be answered by the project team.

Answerensure the project’s champion, the person fighting its corner at board meetings is fully kept up to date on all that is happening within the project and of any concerns with how it may fit in a business context once completed.  To do this the project needs to be constantly aware of its external environment, both within its organization and in the wider business context.

For projects to stay away from the edge of failure the project manager and the team need to get the heads up and remain aware of what is going on around them.  Not being afraid of staying engaged with clients after requirements are set is a proactive approach that any self-respecting client will appreciate no matter what type of project is involved.


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