management


In an 11-year audit of 110 client/server and open systems projects, one auditor boiled the differences between success and failure down to four foundational concepts.

1. Objectivity regarding scope, budget, deadlines, and solution design. Lack of objectivity in these areas is one of the basic causes of project failure. Decisions concerning the business case for initiating the project and establishing all of its parameters need to be scrutinized for bias and inadequate diligence.

2. Experienced people at all levels in the project. Having experienced people on both the client side and the contractor side helps in a number of areas: maintaining a cooperative, problem-solving attitude, enforcing milestones and deliverables, using professional project management techniques, and maintaining continuous user involvement.

3. Authority matched with responsibility. Since a project is usually established with a certain scope but limited budget and schedule, the project man- ager needs to have the authority to make tradeoffs between these objectives. This level of authority needs to be present on both the client side as well as the contractor side.

4. Accountability sufficient to ensure that all parties perform as promised or are definitely held responsible. Accountability needs to be thoroughly detailed in the original contracts and purchase orders. It should include details concerning the project champion, the original estimator, suppliers, the client team and users, and the contractor team. Keeping projects short, such as under six months, keeps from diluting accountability through personnel turnover.

In one page, answer the following questions: 

1. Which of the four concepts is the most important, in your opinion?

2. Elaborate on item 3.

3. What lessons might you have expected that do not seem to be included?

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