Hope should not be the framework for planning projects

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Doing more with less is a deciding factor within business today. This is pretty much every organizations mantra these days. The future of business, therefore, relies on competitiveness and adaptability. In order to do these things efficiently the word planning becomes crucial. Proper planning means everything from meta to micro.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines a project as a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result. Also, on any project, you will have a number of project constraints that are competing for your attention. They are cost, scope, quality, risk, resources, and time.

The diagram below gives you a snapshot of the project management life-cycle. Taken together, these phases represent the path a project takes from the beginning to its end and are generally referred to as the project “life cycle.”

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Let me give you a real-life example of a large project about an infrastructure system change inside one of the largest health-care insurance companies in the US named ABC. The objective was to correct the contact center for better reporting and analytics of the customer calls. The senior leadership went ahead and spent $26M on a new device, (with 3-years licenses) and an unknown vendor called XYZ. The problems occurred right from the initiation phase, primarily for the following reasons. Lack of communication from the senior leadership to the entire organization, i.e the scope was never clear from the beginning. Work and decisions were made in silos and a lot of time was wasted on not proper strategy and metrics about the end results. The execution did not meet the requirements of deliverables, output and most importantly timelines. Not only the project was delayed by 18 months because of senior leadership shake-up and political landscape, the performance and credibility of the choice of vendor partnership with XYZ was a disaster. The sales team of XYZ did an amazing job in selling the complex infrastructure where they did not have enough experience in deploying for large enterprise like ABC. The project ended up 50% costlier than the stipulated budget and 40% of the features initially discussed, were never implemented, such as real-time reporting with analytics about their customer base. The ultimate cost was the employee low-morale, bright and experienced employees either left the organization or let go because of the pressure from the higher-ups.

In conclusion ABC failed to recognize the early warning signs by putting the project on hiatus for 18 months and not knowing the depth of experience and knowledge of the project managers of XYZ put them behind the eight ball. Making sure the right people are assigned to the right tasks. They could have done some re-delegating and re-allocating. Although several factors have been identified that influence the success or failure of projects, some of these factors are specifically related to the planning of projects.


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Navarre, C & Schaan, J. (1999). Design of project management systems from top management’s

perspective, Project Management Journal, 41 (2) p.19-27

Smith, M. (2002). Assessing the Effectiveness of Project Management Practices in Project driven Organisations

Watt, A. (2014). Project Management. Victoria, BC: BC campus