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Project Management

Overdue and over budget, over and over again

Success_FailureI’ve just come across this article from the Economist, first published in 2005.  It asks why, if project management is not exactly a new science and there are so many professionally qualified Project Managers, do so many large-scale projects still go wrong.

In some ways, it’s unfair because we simply don’t know how many successful projects there are as we rarely get to hear about them.

The article starts by saying “When George Stephenson built a railway from Liverpool to Manchester in the 1820s, it cost 45% more than budget and was subject to several delays as it made its way across the treacherous Chat Moss bog. In the intervening 180 years the management of large-scale projects seems to have improved but little.

Increasingly, organisations see Project Management as a core competence because so much of their future strategy is dependent on the success of well-managed change projects and programmes.  They would do well to reflect on their own and others’ lessons learnt before rushing off and assuming that a so-called “robust methodology” is going to be the answer to their prayers.

In the workshops I run to help people develop their project skills we often start with a discussion of the factors that have caused projects to succeed or fail.  Projects rarely fail due to a lack of methodology; the recurring failure factors are invariably about people: poor leadership and sponsorship, lack of stakeholder engagement and poor understanding of how to link deliverables, via uses, to benefits.

Read more about Benefits and the PRUB approach to successful Project Management.

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