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How Can We Avoid Project Disasters?

Project disasters come from a lack of foresight and planning in most cases. Project managers simply fail to consider the “biggest and baddest” problems that can arise, and instead spend time dealing with minor issues that ultimately detract from readiness on the issues and risks that sink projects.  This article by Lisa Anderson discusses some of the project ending disasters that occur on projects, and how we can prevent them from happening. For instance, Anderson explains how forgetting to ask questions is a pretty big problem: Undoubtedly, the exceptional project leaders ask effective questions.   A project leader doesn't have to know everything.   Even the project team doesn't have to know everything.   Instead, what “works' is to ask good questions.   I've recently realized that asking good questions isn't as easy as it sounds.   It's important to understand enough of the technical aspects to be able to ask intelligent questions yet you need to have enough of a presence and communications ability to be respected. Otherwise, you'll quickly be a project team of one! Asking questions is essential to the rollout as they are the key to avoiding pitfalls.   Ask what critical path tasks are likely to cause issues elsewhere in the organization.   Ask how we can address those likely occurrences successfully.   Ask whether the task owner is ready for the upcoming start date.   Ask whether there is any support/ resources required to ensure success.   Ask how the tasks interrelate.   Which resources might be overloaded?   How can you avoid the likely delay? Anderson also explains how people are frightened to address the “sacred cows” of projects. Either through not wanting to look bad or make others look like they've messed up, project managers don't openly discuss problems that are occurring. This leads to problems that become unapproachable, and thereby grow to a point of destroying a project's success.

About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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