A Project Manager – LOOK WITHIN

I am not addressing here what makes a Project fail or succeed but rather the question is: “What makes YOU fail or succeed as a Project Manager?”  TRUST ME, it starts & ends with ONLY YOU, as a Project could fail due to the many below listed and unlisted factors but you can ONLY fail because of YOU so “LOOK WITHIN” as a starting point.  The Traits of a Project Manager are the foundation for individually succeeding.

If you’re thrown at a Project where you know from the get-go that it is going to fail, it is your responsibility to address all your risks and issues from the initial initiation / planning stage, or NOT take on a Project like that.  If you see no behavioral adjustment in the organization to support a change then, after you have done your part, then move on.  Yes, say NO to Projects that will make you, as the Project Manager, fail.

Do NOT blame others and do not try to say “I was setup for failure”.  Because if you had a 360 View of your Project based on your Traits / Skills and toolkit of techniques then you should have seen it coming – ASSESS everything & everyone  – Yes everyone on your Project as people and their commitments make or break your Project.  Use the toolkit of techniques to create your plans (WBS, risk, acceptance, communication, etc.), where they need to be managed and executed throughout the Project.  Do not create those plans and have them sit there, never checked, followed, and executed including your communication plan.  Use your traits to help you structure your Project towards the specific Goal while enjoying it and having the passion to do it right.

Every time I write an article, I focus on the “LOOK WITHIN” area, but I say it a bit differently, as it is so important for you as a Project Manager.  You CAN control many aspects of your Project and do NOT let others dictate and drive your Project as your responsibility is to be CLEAR & TRANSPARENT so tell it the “WAY IT IS”.  Remember, you are the Leader.

YES, I know there are changes in moods, requirements, objectives, goal, inadequate support, etc. but you as the Project Manager can use the traits / skills & toolkit of techniques to DRIVE your Project.

There are many factors that drive your Project to succeed and here are some of them:

  • YOU are in charge
  • Strong communication plan and execution
  • End user involvement
  • Strong Project closure
  • Executive Management support & engagement
  • Clear requirements minimizing big scope expansions
  • Proper planning
  • Realistic expectations
  • The project is well-defined
  • Clearly defined goals
  • The timetable is realistic
  • People are committed and accountable
  • The skills and resources needed are available
  • The client (internal or external) is part of the solution
  • The right personnel
  • Partnership between implementers and stakeholders
  • Functional ownership of the project
  • Effective Project meetings
  • Client sign-off every step of the way and not just at the end
  • Strong & detailed plan and YES, kept up-to-date
  • Risk planning from the initiation stage and NOT during execution only
  • Adequate communication channels
  • Solicit regular feedback
  • Effective change management
  • Strong business case/sound basis for project
  • Sufficient/well allocated resources
  • Good leadership
  • Realistic schedule
  • Risks addressed, assessed, and managed
  • Project sponsor / champion
  • Effective monitoring & control
  • Adequate budget
  • Organizational adaptation / culture / structure
  • Good performance by suppliers / contractors / consultants
  • Proper project management methodology
  • Learning from past experiences
  • Detailed training provisions
  • More than enough time for acceptance testing coupled with a solid acceptance plan

There are many factors that drive your Project to fail and here are some of them:

  • YOU are NOT in charge
  • Project tracking and management
  • Unclear Goal and vision
  • Team issues
  • Planning
  • Decision making problems
  • Lack of leadership vision
  • Requirements Issues
  • Risk management
  • Quality
  • Stakeholder engagement issues
  • Estimated costs
  • Unclear Project Objectives
  • No Visibility into resources workload
  • Gaps in communication
  • Poorly managed
  • Lack of a solid project plan
  • Poorly defined roles and responsibilities
  • Team weaknesses
  • Poor communication
  • Overruns of schedule and cost
  • Scope creep
  • Ignoring project warning signs
  • Undefined objectives and goals
  • Lack of user input
  • Enterprise management of budget resources
  • Inadequate or vague requirements
  • Unrealistic timeframes and tasks
  • Insufficient resources (funding and personnel)
  • Estimates for cost and schedule are erroneous
  • No change control process
  • Inadequate testing processes
  • Weak Project plan
  • Incomplete Project plan
  • Unrealistic Project plan
  • Not enough testing
  • Training was inadequate
  • Too many attendees per training session
  • We didn’t know this Project was coming so quick – I hate CHANGE
  • R&D is behind on delivery of roadmap items
  • R&D had a shift in roadmap priorities
  • Trainer was inefficient

As a Project Manager, you can definitely use ALL the above, plus many others out there, as lessons learned for your Project.  Lessons learned is not about your Projects only but all the other projects that have succeeded or failed out there as learning from others’ mistakes, as well as successes, could be of extreme value to you.

If you have done everything in your power to combine your Traits / Skills with the Toolkit of Techniques and you still face some of the above listed failure factors then it might be time for you to move on to a better place.