Why Projects Fail: The Most Important (and Most Commonly Overlooked) Keys to Success


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We can’t know for sure what percentage of projects end in failure, but industry studies show that the majority of projects do not deliver on their promised results. Yet companies continue to invest large amounts of time and capital into projects with poorly defined goals and a lack of organizational support, ultimately setting project teams up to fail.

While each organization has different requirements for success, the biggest detriments to business projects are surprisingly common. In this interactive discussion, Analyst Danielle Hernandez will share commonly overlooked keys to project success from her experience, and will offer guidance to attendees who are responsible or accountable for projects. Danielle will discuss how companies can avoid taking the easy shortcuts and enable their teams to deliver on time, within budget and aligned to expectations.

Presented by Danielle Hernandez, Analyst, Applications, ADNET Technologies, LLC
Danielle Hernandez, Team Leader, Instructor and Consultant, joined ADNET in 2007 as an Applications Instructor. She quickly grew into a consultant role and has recently been promoted to Team Leader. Danielle is responsible for delivering training to clients, customizing courses to meet specific client needs, and developing course manuals, handouts and outlines for clients and the sales team. Danielle has developed relationships with many clients as they request her services by name!

Specialties :
Microsoft Office Suites – 2010, 2007, 2003
Adobe – Acrobat, PageMaker, Photoshop
Microsoft Communicator & Lync
Soft skills – Project Management, Customer Service, Time Management using Outlook
Course customization & development

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Why Projects Fail: The Most Important (and Most Commonly Overlooked) Keys to Success

  1. 1. BUSINESSSTRATEGYWHY PROJECTS FAIL: THE MOSTIMPORTANT KEYS TO SUCCESSDanielle HernandezApplications AnalystADNET Technologies, LLCFollow me @Apps_AnalystConnect with me on LinkedIn (Danielle Hernandez)
  2. 2. BUSINESSSTRATEGYAUDIENCE POLL• Project Managers• Upper Management• Experience managing projects• Participated on project teams
  3. 3. BUSINESSSTRATEGYWHAT IS A PROJECT?Project Management Book of Knowledge• A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken tocreate a unique product, service or result.
  4. 4. BUSINESSSTRATEGYIs project failure a bad thing?
  6. 6. BUSINESSSTRATEGYDEFINE “FAIL”Merrium-Webster Dictionary Definitionhttp://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/failto fall shortto be unsuccessfulto disappoint the expectations or trust ofto miss performing an expected service or functionto leave undone : neglect
  7. 7. BUSINESSSTRATEGYDEFINE “FAIL”Project Management DefinitionThe project neverstarts or is lateOver budgetWith less than therequiredfeatures/functionsOne of the primaryobjectives of cost,time or quality werenot met
  8. 8. BUSINESSSTRATEGYDEFINE “FAIL”Business Definition• Client expectations were not met• Scope• Schedule• Budget• Risk• Resources• Quality
  9. 9. BUSINESSSTRATEGYDEFINE “SUCCESS”Merrium-Webster Dictionary Definition• Favorable or desired outcome/resulthttp://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/success
  10. 10. BUSINESSSTRATEGYDEFINE “SUCCESS”Project Management DefinitionOn timeWithin budgetWith all required features/functionsAll three primary objectives of cost, time and quality were metProject objectives are met and benefits realized
  11. 11. BUSINESSSTRATEGYDEFINE “SUCCESS”Business Definition• Met/exceeded client expectations
  12. 12. BUSINESSSTRATEGYAUDIENCE DISCUSSION• What does project failure mean to you?• Who decides if a project fails?
  14. 14. BUSINESSSTRATEGYUS AIR FORCE• ERP software project• 1.03 billion in costs from 2005 to 2008• Will need 1.1 billion to continue• Has not yielded any military capability• Will not be completed on time in 2017, instead mostlikely in 2020• Restructured 3 times in 3 years (2005-2008)• Project cancelled in 2012• Will use its "existing and modified logistics systems for2017 audit compliance"http://www.cio.com/article/721628/Air_Force_scraps_massive_ERP_project_after_racking_up_1_billion_in_costs
  15. 15. BUSINESSSTRATEGYBIG DIG• Boston’s central artery tunnel project• Initial cost = $2.6 Billion ended up at $14.8 Billion• 9 years behind schedule• Eventually completed in 2007http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oce/appel/ask/issues/39/39s_big_dig.html
  16. 16. BUSINESSSTRATEGYSTATE OF CALIFORNIA• Payroll & benefits system - MyCalPAYS• Began in 2004• Ended in Feb 2013 with a stop to the project• $254 Million spenthttp://www.sco.ca.gov/21century.html,http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9236662/California_ends_contract_with_SAP_over_troubled_IT_project
  17. 17. BUSINESSSTRATEGYBEOING 787 DREAMLINER• Scheduled to end in 2008, actually ended in 2011• Scheduled to cost $5 billion, actually cost 12-18 b.• More complex than they had anticipatedhttp://calleam.com/WTPF/?p=4617
  18. 18. BUSINESSSTRATEGYGENECA (2010 – 2011)• 75% of respondents admit that their projects areeither always or usually “doomed right from thestart.”• 80% admit they spend at least half their time onrework.• 78% feel the business is usually or always out ofsync with project requirements• Only 55% feel that the business objectives of theirprojects are clear to them.• Less than 20% describe the requirements processas the articulation of business need.• Only 23% state they are always in agreementwhen a project is truly donehttp://www.geneca.com/75-business-executives-anticipate-software-projects-fail/
  19. 19. BUSINESSSTRATEGY“All things are created twice; first mentally;then physically. The key to creativity is tobegin with the end in mind, with a vision anda blue print of the desired result.” —Stephen Covey
  20. 20. BUSINESSSTRATEGYAUDIENCE POLLWhat is the main reason that projects fail?• Scope creep• Unrealistic/unclear objectives• Lack of commitment by PM, Stakeholders orproject team• Poor methodology• Poor communication
  22. 22. BUSINESSSTRATEGYPOOR COMMUNICATION• Lack of communication (frequency)• Bad quality (lacks details)• Wrong choice of method• Wrong audience is included• Negative, non-constructive feedback• Poor listening
  23. 23. BUSINESSSTRATEGYCOMMENTS WORTH NOTING• Too many projects at once• Underestimate importance of requirementsgathering• Different agendas for project sponsor andparticipants• “When Project Managers get too confident thingstend to go wrong”• Agreeing to “happy dates”• Inability for management to make decisions• Making assumptions• Blame game
  24. 24. BUSINESSSTRATEGY“No matter how good the team or howefficient the methodology, if we’re notsolving the right problem, the project fails.”–- Woody Williams
  25. 25. BUSINESSSTRATEGYAUDIENCE DISCUSSION• What experience do you have with project failure?• Any common threads in reasons why projects havefailed from your experience?• Is it ok to walk away from a project?
  27. 27. BUSINESSSTRATEGYSIGNS YOUR PROJECT IS FAILING• A lot of changes are being requested• Team members become confused• Lack of communication• Resources work in the wrong direction• Tasks are not completed on time• Teams are working overtime or on unscheduled days• Resources diverted to other projects/activities• There is a lack of buy-in• More issues added than resolved• Few interim deliverables and milestones• Client is dissatisfied (internal or external)
  28. 28. BUSINESSSTRATEGYIS THERE A CURE FOR PROJECTFAILURE?First step is todiagnose thecauseDetermine if theproject benefitsare worth thetime, cost andenergy tocontinueIdentify the bestway to get theproject back ontrackCreate andcommunicatethe restructuredplan to theproject teamImplement astructuredchangemanagementsystemLearn from yourmistakesIdentify ways toprevent it fromhappening again
  29. 29. BUSINESSSTRATEGYTIPS FOR SUCCESS• Contributor to Success/Failure• Adjust methodology for best fit• Detailed Communication Plan• Change Management System• Keep an eye on the scope• Assign right resources• User Involvement• Time Management
  30. 30. BUSINESSSTRATEGY“Planning without action is futile, actionwithout planning is fatal.”— Cornelius Fitchner
  31. 31. BUSINESSSTRATEGYCLOSING SUMMARY• Identify what project success and failure mean toyou and your organization• Determine how you will operate within thoseguidelines• Accept failure & learn from your mistakes• Determine how your organization will approachfailure• Celebrate success
  32. 32. BUSINESSSTRATEGY@ADNETTech #WorkSmart@ADNETTechnologiesLLC@ADNETTechnologiesInc