Robert C. McCue, P.E.
If you are seeing a rise in problem projects and difficult work-outs, take steps now to inoculate your project team for success and profitability. Basic PMBOK training is certainly necessary but not entirely sufficient to ensure success in today’s fast-paced project environment.
Your team should be alert for the following warning signs of impending project trouble:
- Fuzzy Scope Understanding and Definition – the warning sign – increasing change order processing time and increasing numbers of change orders
- Schedule Confusion – the warning sign – contractors working without approved or published schedules
- Cost Creep – the warning sign – larger numbers of craft labor on the job than planned and slow progress as measured by % completion to plan
- Loss of Control – warning sign – traditional metrics for work measurement do not relate to current work completion or previous estimates
- Disproportionality of Inputs and Results – the warning sign – additional overtime work does not result in measurable additional progress
Over the past forty years MDCSystems® has evaluated hundreds of failed and failing projects and has found similarities and recurring patterns in the data of these projects.
Potential solutions emerge when projects are viewed comparatively. In other words, Planned vs. Actual comparisons of Scope, Schedule and Budget or Cost provide immediate insight into the critical points of progress and allow analysis of key time frames to occur. However, imposing order and solutions requires the synthesis of these snapshots into a holistic view of the entire project. These are learned thought patterns and are not typically apparent to those involved in the day-to-day action at the team level. Introspection and detached analysis of data and synthesis of action can be learned in the right environment.
Leadership traits that must be developed include the ability to recognize developing patterns and to implement trial and error attempts to isolate the failure mechanism. Promoting the ability to draw out solutions from all team members and inhibiting command and control reactionary PM edicts will allow new, unique approaches to develop. This is a special type of leadership that can be comfortable in a rapidly changing environment when normal project management relationships are no longer relevant. It requires situational awareness by the PM, coupled with an open approach to adapting unique solutions.
If you or your organization could benefit from learning new approaches to understanding and managing modern complex projects contact MDCSystems®.