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Project Management

False project reporting: the wrong solutions to the wrong problem?

A recent APM blog post describes the problem of status reports that mask the reality of projects that are late, over-budget and failing to deliver. It states that, apart from fooling ourselves, there are many reasons why people and their project reports do not tell the truth:

  • Ambition
  • Ignorance
  • Optimism
  • Incremental
  • Denial
  • Fear
  • Delusion

The proposed solutions are Assurance (get someone else to mark our homework), Training (to read and question data) and Psychological Safety (make it OK to share bad news). I fear these are all too late because so many projects are initiated with optimism bias built in and a complete lack of lessons learnt. “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got”. Add to that planning and control processes approaches that fail to protect end-dates and many projects are doomed from the start.

Improving project reporting is little more than putting “perfume on a pig”. The famous quotation is: “You can clean up a pig, put a ribbon on its tail, spray it with perfume, but it is still a pig.”

Photo by Matthias Zomer on


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