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Is Your Company Limiting Your Project Success?

Despite their best intentions, people can be really good at sabotaging their own success. By extension, this idea applies to businesses too, except in this case it can cost millions of dollars and damage morale. In an article for CIO.com, Bas de Baat examines some of the ways that businesses unintentionally limit the success of their projects. Can you relate to these problems?

Three Barriers

De Baat rattles off a list of ways that companies can inhibit their own success, but he chooses to elaborate on three:

  1. Silo behavior
  2. Distraction and competing priorities
  3. Project management capability

If you do curls every day but no other exercises, you will end up with big biceps on a still scrawny body. And if you focus on optimizing your vertical of the business without any care for how it relates to other verticals, a scrawny or at least awkward business will result too. If the business does not cut out silo behavior and optimize for cross-functional activities, then the business is not actually optimized at all. Implementing metrics that can measure cross-functional behaviors and encouraging senior leaders to set an example of cooperation are first steps to making things better. Horizontal, end-to-end processes are the eventual goal.

Another way project success can be hindered is when the business dictates too many disparate tasks for a team to complete in a limited timeframe. Project teams must be provided the tools to deal with situations like these:

The biggest step to make or take is to educate the team on how to organize and schedule the work. Make sure that every project and sub-team has work planners and schedulers. Make sure that highly effective communication structures are set up. Make sure that internal and external dependencies are identified and managed. Use a hierarchy of work plans and schedules, with a MPS (master project schedule) and TWS (team work schedules) that are aligned all the time.

Lastly, everyone working on a project has at least some responsibility for managing the project’s success, not just the project manager. Often, businesses just do not assign the people with the right skill sets to a given project. Several team members misaligning in small ways with what the project needs can add up to problems that do not get noticed and reported until it is too late.

Another related issue that de Baat sees is when a “project” is treated more “as an initiative that functions as an extension of the departments involved.” If two departments come together for an initiative, the overlap between the two’s circles of influence can be thought of as the realm of the project. However, resources from each department will think of their respective department as their “home base,” meaning they will have their important discussions there. They might not have those same discussions with the other department, putting the project at risk and creating a situation of no accountability. The project must be its own circle of influence where resources are formally assigned.

These are only a handful of the potential issues. For even deeper discussion of these points, you can view the original article here: http://www.cio.com/article/3093401/project-management/how-companies-limit-project-success.html

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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