Content authored by John Patton, Sirius Project Management Services Manager

Part 2 in a series of articles looking at the common causes of project failure, and the mitigation strategies that can be employed using effective Project Management. To recap, industry analysts Gartner and The Standish Group have published statistics which indicate that as high as 60-80% of IT-led projects fail. Contact Sirius for more information about our Project Management Services

The “top ten” common causes include:
1. Inadequate communication
2. Poor plans and planning processes
3. Failure to adequately identify, document, and track requirements
4. Inadequately trained and/or inexperienced project managers
5. Lack of resources
6. Technology illiteracy
7. Poor budget management
8. Poor quality control
9. Lack of sound executive sponsorship
10. Underestimating or ignoring impact of change
In this issue of Connect: Poor plans and planning processes

Successful projects commonly find their start in successful planning. However, impatience is often driven by the urgency to get the project started quickly, and consequently good project planning is ignored. The team may rush into their project without a clear understanding of how to actually accomplish the goals and objectives identified.

Poor project planning can negatively impact the team’s enthusiasm for their jobs. Frustration naturally goes up when a team is plagued with poor communication. For example, where do dependencies exist across tasks? How does a team member know if an issue they have identified may have impact on other parts of the project? What are the possible risks and their triggers? What are the possible contingencies if that risk were to occur?
Poor project planning can negatively affect relationships with customers if key deadlines are not met, resulting in missed product release windows or upgrades to alleviate bandwidth constraints to online services do not occur. Sometimes, in a rush to meet those deadlines, quality may suffer if success criteria were not identified.

There is a proven five-step project management methodology, based on the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). The PMI method is widely accepted as the standard for managing projects of all sizes. The PMBOK is designed for all types of projects but is extremely effective for software development, integration and infrastructure projects.

This method is a basic framework to carry out project management activities, and will adapt the model to meet the specific needs of the design, development and implementation of the engagement.

The methodology relies on a thorough understanding of the business justification, a well-trained and organized project team, and a planned approach of dividing the project into manageable and controllable phases. Another important facet is the identification and mitigation of risks.

Project managers use regular plan reviews, and report progress in accordance with a published communication plan. By keeping everyone well informed — including the project sponsor, stakeholders, and team members — success is assured. Control is achieved by focusing attention on detail in the design and planning phases, and tracking against a clear set of tasks and decision points. Deviations to the plan are caught early to minimize the impact to the schedule and cost of the project.

Example: Sirius’ methodology addresses all of the areas covered within the PMI project management model including project integration, scope control, time management, subcontractor management, schedule change control, issue management, cost management, resource management, communications management, and risk management.
Our five-step methodology comprises the following phases:

Initiation: This phase authorizes the project, and documents the basis for the project. This includes the analysis of the business requirements, project charter, high-level solution design, statement of work, client agreement, and kick-off meeting.

Planning: This phase defines and redefines the objectives which the project was undertaken to address. The planning activities include the creation of the detailed schedule/project plan, site assessments, planning work sessions, documenting the communication and risk assessment plans, validating the high-level solution design, and confirmation of hardware and software procurement.

Execution: This phase coordinates the people and resources to execute the project plan. It ensures quality assurance, information distribution, and execution of the training, testing and implementation of the solution.

Controlling: This phase integrates scope verification and change control processes for out-of-scope items identified during the Execution phase. Team performance is measured against the approved schedule/project plan. Issue and risk monitoring and control are driven to meet the project’s time and budget objectives.

Closeout: This phase supports the client acceptance of deliverables/project, post-implementation review with stakeholders and project principals, maintenance and support analysis, and client satisfaction survey participation.