Content author: John Patton, Sirius Project Management Services Manager

Part 4 in a series of articles looking at the common causes of project failure, and the mitigation strategies that can be employed using the Project Management Services offered by Sirius.

To recap, a Dynamic Markets survey of 800 IT managers reported by CIO.com revealed that 62% of IT projects fail to meet their schedules, 49% suffer budget overruns, 47% have higher-than-expected maintenance costs and 41% fail to deliver the expected business value and ROI.

In this issue of Connect: Cause #4 – Lack of Resources

Inadequately trained and/or inexperienced project manager often increases the risk that the project will fail. Similarly, not having the right number of people (or lack of appropriate skill sets) is another common factor influencing the failure of many projects.

Skilled resources who can provide subject matter expertise for the tasks or deliverables assigned to them are a fundamental ingredient of a successful project. However, a “skilled resource” has not only the appropriate technical credentials, but interpersonal skills as well. The ability to communicate (both in writing and verbally) and to work well with others in a team environment is important. A skilled resource who cannot (or sometimes will not) communicate or work well with others can often pose a greater risk to the project than if no resource were available.
The first phase of any project is Initiation. This phase authorizes the project and documents the basis for the project. Key activities include analysis of the business requirements, project charter, high-level solution design, statement of work, customer agreement, and the kick-off meeting. An accurate estimation of the resource requirements (which should include some analysis/documentation of the skill sets required) is essential.

For every project that has been authorized and initiated, the organization is responsible for ensuring that the necessary resources are provided. Well documented output from the Initiation phase (e.g., high-level solution design or statement of work) will provide the necessary evidence behind requests for additional skilled resources.

However, a number of factors (such as downsizing initiatives) have thinned the pool of skilled resources available within many organizations. In some cases, the resources may exist but they are already fully committed elsewhere, causing delays before the project has even begun. An increasing trend among many resource-constrained organizations is to solicit help from the outside. However, finding the right partner to provide the skills you need to fulfill your project needs can also be challenging.