We say that well-managed projects encounter and respond to critical issues as early as possible, while poorly managed projects fail close to the delivery date.
Often, a critical issue – an unforeseen event or a new piece of information – will dictate that in response a project has to be seriously reshaped. The business environment may have changed, or a new piece of legislation may have placed constraints on the project approach, or a key department may have agreed on a strategy conflicting with project objectives. Regardless, many projects will continue to plod along the initially set course, incurring large costs that no longer add value to the company.
Do you know how long it takes, on average, between a critical issue appearing on one of your projects, and you receiving a proper project impact assessment? If you are not certain, or if you think it could be months, then you are not too far from the norm seen in our experience. However, each day of delay in responding to critical project issues could lead to significant non-value adding expenditures and increase the chance of project failure.
For a long time, IT value management methodologies such as ITIL or COBIT, combined with project management methodologies such as PRINCE 2 and PMBOK have given us best practices that theoretically will always guarantee project success, or at least an immediate reaction to critical issues. These frameworks are often associated with the term Waterfall, as they are based on “traditional” project management concepts and distinct project phases. More recently, Agile methodologies and frameworks have brought us not only new approaches, practices and tools to manage changes – but also a new value-driven mindset that helps drive projects to success.
Why Are These Methodologies Not Fully Adopted?
The difficulty faced by many organizations is in the practical implementation of these methodologies. Traditional Waterfall methodologies, in their full form, can be extremely intimidating and often highly bureaucratic. Indeed, in our pragmatic experience, we discovered that 80% of the impact of these methodologies lies in just 20% of the listed practices. We can help find out exactly which 20% to implement and how, in order to increase your project success rate.
Given the generally high failure rates of Waterfall-managed IT projects, many organizations have started adopting Agile practices. However, results overall have been far from the expected improvements in productivity, project performance and overall value for the Business.
Is Agile Then Just a Trend?
Our answer is – it depends on your approach. Agile practices (the “what” and “how“) bring little benefit, unless the IT and Business teams embrace agile values (the “why“). Scrum, XP (Extreme Programming), Lean and Kanban practices by themselves can certainly bring benefits, but these will be minor compared to what a truly Agile organization can achieve. As with all frameworks and methodologies, there is no “beaten path” to becoming Agile – you need to decide which practices make sense in your case, and then implement them.
We Can Help You Make Those Steps – and Bring Real Value to Your Organization
If you are looking at which methodology to implement, we can work with you to custom-tailor a lightweight project methodology that is right for you, is easily implementable, reduces your administration overheads, and still gets your project success rates up substantially. Even if you have an existing project methodology in place, we can review and fine-tune it to ensure that you are not spending unnecessary time on administration and at the same time improve your project management maturity level.
If you worry about a particular project, we can do a one-off project review that will deliver a project health check status alongside recommendations for improvement. For high-value or high-risk projects we could also do stage-based reviews assuring at each critical point that the project is delivering value.
To discuss your needs and how we can help, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.