Juggling Projects With Forgotten Strategies

According to the Standish Group, 32% of all business projects are delivered on time, on budget and with the required features and functions, while 44% are challenged -- that is, late, over budget, and/or with less than the required features and functions. Remarkably, 24% fail, cancelled prior to completion or delivered and never used.

Consider the huge number of projects being worked on, the colossal investment in resources and the bitter disappointment when so many of the initiatives fail to deliver. How will organizations remain competitive and efficient with such troublesome results? If your organization has unlimited resources and is not accountable, then perhaps this is of little importance to you. For small business owners, it should be top of mind.

So why is there such turmoil in successfully implementing projects? From my experience, organizations are typically trying to push far too many projects forward. There seems to be a genuine concern for driving results, a desire to step up and take on responsibility - yet between business units there is often a severe lack of clarity as to which projects truly support their strategy.

Inefficient processes, frustrating systems, unhappy senior management and overzealous and ambitious managers all tend to breed new projects. There is a tendency to try and help others and to be seen as a team player. This leads to additional projects being born, and there is an overall belief that positive energy and attitude will win the day. This, however, leads to a lack of focus on implementing the strategy. Many of the key aspects of delivering projects successfully are ignored or short-changed, and the current environment of doing more with less creates enormous stress on the teams responsible for delivering results.

How to give yourself a better chance of success:

1. Identify the current universe of projects, both being worked on and desired.

2. Clearly link the expected value of the project to the strategic objectives. Map out the resources required to implement each project.

3. Create a decision making process for prioritizing projects.

4. Conduct a gap analysis on the resource requirements against higher priority projects. Get the resources you need to succeed.

5. Implement a process for how projects are initiated, delayed, accelerated and cancelled.

6. Involve team members from various groups in the entire process.

7. Get buy-in from senior management throughout.

8. Make the data (from all the points above) visible. Colleagues will be so much more supportive if they see and understand the bigger picture, why decisions are made in a certain way and how they are impacted.

9. Have the courage to make tough decisions and get senior management to support compliance.

Implementing the points above builds a good foundation for implementing the strategy for your project team, which should support the entire organization’s strategy. The points above will also answer the key question: Which projects should I actually be working on now?

Vijay Aluwalia is the principal and founder of Varune Project Leadership in New Jersey, with more than 17 years of project management and consulting experience across the United Kingdom, Ireland, Portugal, India and the US. He can be reached at vijay@varune.com.