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This chapter is from the book

Why Are Projects Important?

To understand why project management is important, look at your favorite news source—even if it isn’t a traditional business publication. Chances are you’ll find a failed project in the headlines (sometimes you’ll even find a successful project mentioned). In 2013 alone, there were major automobile recalls, unsuccessful deployment of the Affordable Care Act website, the remaking of J.C. Penny, California’s MyCalPAYS payroll and benefits system, Boeing’s development of the 787 Dreamliner—all very public and very expensive examples of project problems or failures. Take a second and do a Google search for “failed projects 2013” and see what you get. Clearly projects fail. Many project failures have at least one thing in common—a lack of optimal project management. That is, the project manager (or the person in charge with some other title) did not apply the tools and principles appropriately. Although there are nearly as many reasons for failure as there are failed projects, the following are some common causes of project failure in every business sector.

Common Causes of Project Failure

  • Unclear objectives/scope definition
  • Inadequate sponsorship/lack of senior management commitment
  • Poor planning by the project manager
  • Changing or unclear requirements
  • Lack of a change control process
  • Inadequate resources
  • Poor communication
  • Lack of customer input
  • PM lacks technical, organizational, or interpersonal skills
  • Inappropriate (too much or too little) project oversight
  • Inappropriate governance structure
  • Stakeholders not identified or engaged
  • Unclear roles and responsibilities in the project team
  • Poor grasp of project complexity
  • Key/crucial decisions made by non-SMEs (subject matter experts)
  • Unrealistic or non-existent timelines
  • Ignoring warning signs that the project is in trouble
  • Poor business decisions

The whole concept of project failure is interesting. Projects should succeed. Project managers and their stakeholders are usually highly trained, talented, and experienced individuals. Projects shouldn’t fail, but they do. There are tools to help avoid failure and to help recover when the unforeseen happens.

Despite projects that fail, there are many successes, and they add much value to their organizations. Although they might not be the current ongoing process and part of normal day-to-day operations, successfully completed projects often establish the foundations for follow-on successes via the resulting new normal. The beauty of projects is that in addition to producing specific, unique, tangible, or intangible results, they are often a catalyst for change—a way of inserting new processes, procedures, tools, resources, and so on into organizations’ ongoing operations, thereby enabling future successes. Ongoing operations—especially well-managed, quality, repeatable operations—are a way for organizations to accomplish their mission. Projects are vehicles to help organizations learn, change, adapt, improve, and adopt new processes, products, or technology. The PMBOK is an excellent tool to help professionals manage projects and while it is expansive, it can’t cover everything as illustrated in Figure 1.1.

Figure 1.1

Figure 1.1 No body of knowledge—including the PMBOK—answers all questions.

Source: http://www.glenknight.com/?p=57

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