Statistics indicate that 68% of all IT projects are bound to failure!
The PMI’s definition of a high-performing organisation, is a company that completes 80% or more projects on time, on budget, and meeting original goals. In a low-performing organization, only 60% or fewer projects hit the same marks.
Projects fail for all kinds of reasons:
- Stakeholders can change their objectives
- Key team members can leave for other companies
- Budgets can disappear
- Materials/Vendors can be delayed
- Priorities can go un-managed
- Running out of time
- …and others
In this post:
> How to prevent project failure (with some statistics)
> How to recover a failing project
How to prevent project failure
Prevention is the best cure, so what can you do to prevent projects from failing? Here is some statistics…
- Organisations that invest in proven project management practices waste 28 times less money because more of their strategic initiatives are completed successfully.
Source: PMI’s Pulse of the Profession Survey, 2017.
- 77% of high-performing organizations have actively-engaged project sponsors, while only 44% of low-performing organizations do.
Source: PMI’s Pulse of the Profession Survey, 2017.
- 46% of CIOs say that one of the main reasons IT projects fail is weak ownership.
Source: The Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey, 2017.
- 33% of IT projects fail because senior management doesn’t get involved and requirements/scope change mid-way through the project.
Source: A Replicated Survey of IT Software Project Failures by Khaled El Emam and A. Güneş Koru, 2008.
- 78% of respondents feel that business is out of sync with project requirements and business stakeholders need to be more involved in the requirements process.
Source: Doomed from the Start Industry Survey by Geneca, 2011.
- 45% of the managers surveyed say business objectives are unclear to them.
Source: Doomed from the Start Industry Survey by Geneca, 2011.
- Companies that align their enterprise-wide PMO (project management office) to strategyhad 38% more projects meet original goals than those that did not. They also had 33% fewer projects deemed failures.
Source: PMI’s Pulse of the Profession Survey, 2017.
- 40% of CIOs say that some of the main reasons IT projects fail is an overly optimistic approach and unclear objectives.
Souce: The Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey, 2017.
- Poor estimation during the planning phase continues to be the largest (32%) contributor to IT project failures.
Source: PwC 15th Annual Global CEO Survey, 2012.
- Projects with effective communication are almost twice as likely to successfully deliver project scope and meet quality standards than projects without effective communication (68% vs 32% and 66% vs 33%, respectively.)
Source: PwC 15th Annual Global CEO Survey, 2012.
How to recover a failing project
These statistics show that the odds are not in your favour. It is inevitable that you will have to deal with a failing project or two, some time within your career… You could turn the odds in your favour by taking action in recovering failing projects.
Here are four steps you can use that could save a failing project — backed up by original research from Gartner, iSixSigma, PMI Project Zone Congress, The Institution of Engineering and Technology, and Government CIO Magazine. Follow these four steps and salvage your failing project!
Step 1: Stop and Evaluate
Step 1 – Big action items:
- Issue a “stop work” order
- Talk with everyone
Metrics/Indicators: The right project Management Information (MI) should give you the needed early warning signs when things are not going according to plan and heading to failure. These signs should drive you to action, as rescuing a failing a project is not a task to be sneezed at. It takes planning, and the process can consume weeks of key resources time and effort.
People: To help ease the pain of stopping a project, work with the team members’ managers (resource owners) to identify and assign interim work. As people are your most important asset, it is important to keep them productively engaged while you are evaluating and re-planning your project recovery.
Project artefacts/deliverables: Make sure all the project artefacts and deliverables are safely stored where it cannot be tampered with for the interim period.
Communicate: (clear, concise, and concrete) – Communicate to your team why their project is on hold. Spend the needed time to learn as much as you can about each team member’s opinions of the project and of each other. Learning that their project will be put on hold will inevitably create distrust. Transparency and tailored messaging is the best way to mitigate bad feelings. See blog posts “Management Communication Plan” and “Effective Leadership Communication”
Project/Delivery Manager (You):Check your ego. Go to the major stakeholders and ask for anonymous feedback on their view of the overall project. When evaluating their responses, don’t forget to consider company culture and politics and how those factors may have played a role in forming the stakeholders’ opinions.
Step 2: Why your project is failing – Root causes
Step 2 – Big action items:
- Establish allowable solutions for project rescue (including project termination)
- Identify root causes of the problem
- Identify risks to project continuation
Determine the root causes: Most times the cause of project problems is not immediately obvious. Even the best project managers — those with excellent project plans, appropriate budgets, and fantastic scope control — also struggle, on occasion, with project failure.
You’ll only get to the bottom of it by doing a Route Cause Analysis (RCA) and the “5 Why’s” technique can help with that. See “The 5 Whys for route cause analysis”
Surface-level answers are often the temptation when project managers reach this step. They might focus on the complexity of their project, their outdated project management softwareor methodology, their unclear objectives or their stakeholders’ lack of involvement. All of these problems are so generic that they don’t provide enough insight to create real solutions.
Apply the “5 Whys” and be specific when answering these questions… i.e.
- Why are objectives unclear?
- Why aren’t users getting involved?
- Why are the estimates wrong?
Of course, some of these answers may be hard to hear, and solutions can range from the challenging to impossible. Remember: if these issues could be easily remedied, they would have been addressed and resolved. Even simple problems — like a team member leaving — can take months to fix. Ask yourself: are you using the right technology for the job? Are your dependencies so external that project control is simply out of your hands?
If you’re still struggling to figure out where the root of your project failure is, consider these seven issues – the most common causes of project failure.
Risk Assessment:What are the risks when trying to salvage the project? Are those risks worth it? Is the project salvageable? Answer these questions before moving on.
Step 3: War Room
Step 3 – Big action items:
- Set up the war room
- Re-engage stakeholders
- Create a tentative plan to move forward
Assemble the team, seat them all together, and work through a rescue workshop. You’re in the mentality of “kill” or “fix” you’re done fact finding, asking question for further research, or finding other excuses to delay the process. That should all have been done in step two. You’re focussed to figure out what to do with your project.
The “war room” will be intense – all members need to be prepared and the right mindset of problem solving!
The decision-making process could take two hours or several days. All key decision makers must be present. As this is not always possible some executives may prefer to be called in as the meeting is nearing its end, where team members can present prepared options.
To get the most out of the workshop, conduct the meeting face to face (take the meeting offline). Try to limit the meeting to ten people, including the most important stakeholders (like the sponsors), project manager, senior team members including technical representative to give insight to plan feasibility.
The war room is serious business – prepare for it. Create an agenda to go over findings, from quantitative reporting to team member interviews. Encourage pre-war-room collaboration (covering the outcomes of steps 1 and 2) toward the ideal shared result.
When you start the war room meeting, all project material should be readily available. That’s your fact base driving factual data driven assumptions and decisions.
Using the facts, the purpose of the war room, in essence, is to answer three deceptively complex questions:
- Is the business case still valid?
- If the business case is no longer valid, is there potential for a new, reimagined, justified business case?
- (If so): Are the added costs for project rescue worth it?
Encourage your task force to focus on identifying the project’s primary drivers (i.e. business need/value, budget, schedule, scope, or quality). Ideally, there should only be one driver that controls the outcome of the project – this is usually the business need for the project’s deliverables.
Sometimes the primary driver is beyond repair. For example, if the core due date has passed and it was aligned with a market cycle (ex: Black Friday to Christmas), then the project is irremediable.
Least case scenario: Clearly articulate the primary goal. Then identify what the team can do with the least amount of effort. Develop a scenario that costs the company the least and gets closest to achieve the primary goal.
Project termination considerations: If the primary goal cannot be achieved, prepare a recommendation to terminate the project… but not without scrutiny. Several variables must be considered and thoroughly addressed in the war room.
- Consider trade-offs that could make the worst-case scenario more possible than originally thought.
- Think about the potential backlash from killing a project.
- How does that decision affect business strategy?
- Other projects?
- Public perceptions?
- Potential future clients? All these variables must be considered and thoroughly addressed in the war room.
Alternatives: Should the least-case scenario makes sense, explore more alternatives. Are there alternative options that can deliver more of the project’s objectives, and consider how adding those solutions to your plan can create additional potential scenarios — positive or negative.
New project charter: Write down the main points of your plan in a revised project charter.
Replacement project option: It’s not uncommon for stakeholders to propose a replacement project instead of a rescue. That’s a totally viable option — kill the project, salvaging only essential, functional portions of the original attempt, and work to create a new plan.If the decision is to completely start over, abandon project rescue altogether. Justify the replacement project on its own merit (a new scope, budget, resource plan, etc.)
Step 4: Set your project in motion
Step 4 – Big action items:
- Finalise how your project will move forward
- Confirm responsibilities
- Reset organizational expectations.
Following your war room meeting, your next steps are all about follow-up. The real project rescue starts here and is the most challenging part of project rescue.
Re-engage stakeholders around the contents of the new project plan and complete the detail with precise commitments for each team member. Plans should be finalised within two days.
Be careful as hesitation and procrastination can limit team commitment and lower morale. You’re the general; get your troops ready to re-engage and to stay committed and focussed!
Reconfirm all project metrics: Validate all project aspects especially resources, as people has been allocation to productive work while you were reworking your rescue plan.
As the project rolls forward, be sure to detail the new project’s profile, scope, and size to the core team and beyond. Emphasize expected outcomes and explain how this project aligns with the company’s goals. Don’t shy away from communicating what these changes can mean on a big-picture scale. While you may receive some feedback, be direct: the project is proceeding.
Make sure all communication is clear. Confirm that stakeholders accept their new responsibilities to the project.
AGILE – What business executives need to know #2: Overview of 4 most commonly used Agile Methodologies
In the first article in this series we focussed on an overview of what Agile software development is and referred to the Agile SCRUM methodology to describe the agile principles.
Let’s recap – Wikipedia describes Agile Software Development as an approach to software development under which requirements and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organizing cross functional teams and their customers / end users. It advocates adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, and continuous improvement, and it encourages rapid and flexible response to change. For an overview see the first blog post…
Several agile delivery methodologies are in use for example: Adaptive Software Development (ASD); Agile Nodelling; Agile Unified Process (AUP); Disciplined Agile Delivery; Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM); Extreme Programming (XP); Feature-Driven Development (FDD); Lean Software Development (LEAN); Kanban; Rapid Application Development (RAD); Scrum; Scrumban.
This article covers a brief overview of the four most frequently used Agile Methodologies:
- Extreme Programming (XP)
Using Scrum framework the project work is broken down into user stories (basic building blocks of agile projects – these are functional requirements explained in an in business context) which are collated in the backlog (work to be done). Stories, from the backlog, are grouped into sprints (development iteration) based on story functionality dependencies, priorities and resource capacity. The resource capacity is determined by the speed (velocity) at which the team can complete stories, which are categorised into levels of complexity and effort required to complete. Iterations are completed with fully functional deliverables for each story until all the needed stories are completed for functional solutions.
Scrum is based on three pillars:
- Transparency – providing full visibility on the project progress and a clear understanding of project objectives to the project team but more importantly to the stakeholders responsible for the outcome of the project.
- Inspection – Frequent and repetitive checks on project progress and milestones as work progresses towards the project goal. The focus of these inspections is to identify problems and differences from the project objectives as well as to identify if the objectives have changed.
- Adaptation – Responding to the outcome of the inspections to adapt the project to realign in addressing problems and change in objectives.
Through the SCRUM methodology, four opportunities for Inspection and Adaptation are provided:
- Sprint Retrospective
- Daily Scrum meeting
- Sprint review meeting
- Sprint planning meeting
A Scrum team is made of a Product Owner, a Scrum Master and the Development Team.
Scrum activity can be summarised within the following events:
- Sprint – a fixed time development iteration
- Sprint Planning meetings
- Daily Scrum meetings (Stand-Up meetings)
- Sprint Review meetings
- Sprint Retrospectives
XP – EXTREME PROGRAMMING
Extreme Programming (XP) provides a set of technically rigorous, team-oriented practices such as Test Driven Development, Continuous Integration, and Pairing that empower teams to deliver high quality software, iteratively.
Lean grew from out of the Toyota manufacturing Production System (TPS). Some key elements of this methodology are:
- Optimise the whole
- Eliminate waste
- Build quality in
- Learn constantly
- Deliver fast
- Engage everybody
- Keep improving
Lean five principles:
- Specify value from the customer’s point of view. Start by recognizing that only a small percentage of overall time, effort and resources in a organization actually adds value to the customer.
- Identify and map the value chain. This is the te entire set of activities across all part of the organization involved in delivering a product or service to the customer. Where possible eliminate the steps that do not create value
- Create flow – your product and service should flow to the customer without any interruptions, detours or waiting – delivering customer value.
- Respond to customer demand (also referred to as pull). Understand the demand and optimize the process to deliver to this demand – ensuring you deliver only what the customer wants and when they want it – just in time production.
- Pursue perfection – all the steps link together waste is identified – in layers as one waste rectification can expose another – and eliminated by changing / optimizing the process to ensure all assets add value to the customer.
Kanban is focussed the visual presentation and management of work on a kanban board to better balance the understanding of the volume of work with the available resources and the delivery workflow.
Six general work practices are exercised in kanban:
- Limiting work in Progress (WIP)
- Flow management
- Making policies explicit
- Using feedback loops to ensure customer and quality alignment
- Collaborative & experimental evolution of process and solutions
By limiting WIP you are minimising waste through the elimination of multi tasking and context switching.
There is no prescription of the number of steps to follow but it should align with the natural evolution of the changes being made in resolving a problem or completing a specific peace of work.
It focuses on delivering to customer expectations and needs by promoting team collaboration including the customer.
A Pragmatic approach
These techniques together provide a powerful, compelling and effective software development approach that brings the needed flexibility / agility into the software development lifecycle.
Combining and borrowing components from different methodologies to find the optimum delivery method that will deliver to the needs of the organisation is key. Depending on the specific business needs/situation, these components are combined to optimise the design, development and deployment of the software.
A good overview of different agile methodologies can be found on this slideshare at .
Let’s Talk – Are you looking to achieve your goals faster? Create better business value? Build strategies to improve growth? We can help – make contact!
SPHERE grows – delivering IT Shared Services to West Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust
SPHERE, Systems Powering Healthcare Ltd, is incorporating West Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust into the shared IT service provision that they supply to a number of NHS Trusts. This includes Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which acquired West Middlesex in 2015.
The project results from several months of preparatory work by SPHERE, assessing its scope and provisioning the service transfer, with completion scheduled for October 2017.
SPHERE is an IT shared services provider to the healthcare sector, primarily NHS Foundation Trusts. It was set up by Chelsea and Westminster and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trusts to deliver and support IT infrastructure for both trusts to achieve economies of scale and bring down the cost per user, says Renier Botha, Managing Director of SPHERE:
“Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trusts is one of the founding members of SPHERE and it made sense for the West Middlesex Trusts to join the shared services management that we provide. We have a proven services model that we can take to a range of other healthcare providers to realise cost savings whilst improving service quality.
“SPHERE will now be supporting an additional 2,000 end users with the commissioning of West Middlesex. This financial year will see the cost per user for member trusts fall substantially through economies of scale,” says Renier Botha.
SPHERE is currently gearing up to support the deployment of the Cerner EPR (Electronic Patient Record) system across the Chelsea Westminster and West-Middlesex NHS Trusts for which it provides shared services.
West Middlesex will be the first Trust to go live with Cerner. Sphere will manage the provision of infrastructure and the overall IT support services and are currently assessing which first line support services will be prioritised for the Cerner platform.
In 2014 Kevin Jarrold, Director on the SPHERE board and CIO at Imperial Healthcare Trust and Chelsea and Westminster, oversaw the deployment of Cerner at Imperial. Sphere will look to capitalise on the learnings of the Imperial team to ensure trouble-free integration of the support services.
To take advantage of the capabilities of cloud computing, SPHERE is moving its primary data centre and specific systems to Equinix, a leading colocation provider, in London.
Equinix has hosted the Cerner platform since 2010 and SPHERE says that this offers a robust solution for the Trusts, improving the IT infrastructure resilience and business continuity capabilities mitigating the key business risks associated with location and services required from IT hosting facilities.
“SPHERE is well positioned to provide improved IT services to the healthcare sector – expanding on the presence of Cerner within the same data centre and utilising the capabilities of the Microsoft Azure cloud platform at Equinix,” says Renier Botha.
For further information please contact SPHERE Head Office – Systems Powering Healthcare Ltd, Unit 101, Harbour Yard London, SW10 0XD – Tel: 020 331 5888.
Consulting to Cloud Troopers as the Interim Head of Loyalty Products & Programmes – Renier directed the design, software development and implementation of the points based Allegiant Airlines Loyalty and Rewards Programme to fully leverage the Allegiant services and brand strength to provide new revenue streams and increase the effectiveness of others. The Allegiant Rewards programme is based on a co-branded credit card provided by an American Bank.
Guest Blog by Brian Sumers – 1 Sep 2016
Allegiant Air knows less about its most loyal customers than it would like. Its new co-branded credit card could help change that. But will anyone apply for it?
Despite being among the world’s most consistently profitable airlines, Allegiant Air knows relatively little about its customers, though it has learned, through surveys and from Mastercard that they have an average household income slightly above $100,000 and prefer to eat at Olive Garden and shop at TJ Maxx.
The problem is that Allegiant’s customers fly the airline infrequently, with about 80 percent booking one or two tickets per year. And since Allegiant has not had a frequent flyer program, it has fewer opportunities than other airlines to learn about its customers.
But Allegiant, which has reported 53 consecutive profitable quarters, believes it has finally solved its problem. Almost two decades after its first flight, the airline on Thursday launched a co-branded credit card — a Bank of America Mastercard — the first for Allegiant, a niche carrier that prefers routes other airlines avoid, such as St. Cloud, Minnesota to Phoenix, Minot, North Dakota to Las Vegas and Belleville, Illinois to Jacksonville. Allegiant will enter a market saturated with travel-themed cards from nearly every airline and hotel company, but it is hopeful the new card will give it more insights into its passengers.
“I am surprised it has taken them this long,” said Jay Sorensen, president of IdeaWorks Company and an authority on airline ancillary revenue schemes. “But what is unique about Allegiant is their base of business is probably very distinct from the traditional airlines. It is an interesting position.”
Credit card deals can be lucrative, and when American re-upped deals with Barclays and Citi in July, it said they could produce $1.5 billion in pre-tax revenue over two and a half years. Allegiant is tiny compared to American — the discounter had 85 aircraft at the end of June — but its deal should be lucrative, too.
“We think it is going to be valuable piece of business,” said Brian Davis, Allegiant’s vice president for marketing and sales, declining to give exact numbers. “We see our peers and the revenue generated from programs like this.”
The card comes as Allegiant, long an iconoclast in the U.S. airline industry, starts to look more like its competitors, all of whom have long had co-branded credit cards and loyalty programs. Allegiant, which had bought only used planes, recently placed its first order for new aircraft from Airbus. And, despite mostly flying between small and medium sized markets for most of its history, Allegiant is expanding at larger ones, including Newark, New Jersey. It is even starting to compete with larger airlines on some routes after having long avoided direct competition.
Still, with its co-branded credit card, Allegiant is trying something different. Unlike every other U.S. airline, Allegiant will not award points for travel. Instead, only card-holders, who will pay a $59 annual fee, will earn them. They’ll receive three points for each dollar they spend on Allegiant, two for spending on dining, and one for all other purchases. They can use points for discounts on travel, and the 15,000 points that come as a sign-up bonus can be redeemed for $150 off the price of any ticket. As sweeteners, cardholders receive a free drink when flying Allegiant, as well as discounts on hotel packages. (Allegiant hopes this will help it sell more packages.)
There’s no chance for travelers to redeem for business class airfare to Asia, but Davis said Allegiant’s customers have little interest in complicated redemption schemes.
“Those are built around travelers who travel a ton, and it is worth their time to learn about the rules,” he said. “If you only travel once a year, you’re not going to tolerate a lot of rules and conditions.”
Monitoring customer habits
When card members start spending, Allegiant will have access to more data about its core customers. Bank of America will not share information about individuals, but it will give the airline macro-level insights it does not have today.
“To the extent that people use it as their primary card, you have opened up the window to a lot more data,” Sorensen said. “That data can include, ‘Are they buying products from your competitors? And where are they using the card?”
This is a big deal for Davis. If a customer books a ticket using any credit card on Allegiant, he can learn some details about where else those customers shop, but a branded credit card will give Allegiant access to more aggregate data about what key customers want.
“If through this card, we learn our customers have a really strong affinity for a particular chain of restaurant, then I hope in the next year or two I would hope we would reach out to that restaurant chain about a [tie-in,]” Davis said.
Sorensen said an airline can use data to tailor offers to customers. Allegiant makes considerable revenue on vacation packages, but presumably many of its customers buy hotels independently on Orbitz or another site. If Allegiant can learn more about where its card-holders are staying, it will know more about which hotels to show in prominent positions on its website.
Allegiant also expects to use the card to maintain a year-round relationship with its most loyal customers. Today, it emails customers with deals, but it wants to have other reasons to contact them.
“For the first time, many customers will have a reason to stay connected with us for the other 51 weeks of the year,” Davis said. The goal is to “expand the company’s relationship” with customers, he said.
A challenge to attract card members
Many airlines first start a frequent flyer program and then add a credit card. They create the programs in this order because a carrier with millions of customers in a database has a natural market for its cards.
“It will be a handicap,” Sorensen said. “A general rule of thumb is that once you have a million or more people in a frequent flyer program, then you can start talking to a bank.”
But Allegiant expects to have something other airlines do not — motivated flight attendants. On every flight, they will make announcements and give out paper applications. They will ask passengers to fill them out and will collect them before landing. The on-plane collection is important, Davis said, because the airline fears customers will forget to mail them in.
With the card, Allegiant expects to the same people who buy the bulk of the airline’s tickers — the female head-of-householders. The airline says its core customer is Christie, 48, a married former school teacher with two kids living in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Her husband is co-owner of the local insurance company. “Christie has always been in charge of booking vacations for the family and hates wasting time and money,” Allegiant says in internal documents.
Ultimately, though, the card’s success may on how aggressively flight attendants sell it. Other airlines also ask flight attendants to promote cards with limited success, but Allegiant is optimistic its employees, who already earn commissions for other on-plane sales, will be motivated. The flight attendant responsible for each credit card approval will receive a $30 commission.
“At legacy airlines, there is almost always pushback,” Sorensen said. “Flight attendants say, ‘We’re not sales people.’ Hopefully, Allegiant is an airline where the flight attendants understand they are sales people.”
Original Article from Skift click here
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