Editor’s note: Karen McIsaac is president of Project Managers, Inc.Projects often fail at the starting gate because it is not clear what is to be accomplished and there are no measurements for project goals after completion. This is where a definition of scope is essential.

Scope definition is the foundation for beginning any project initiative – from building a house to developing an enterprise product. A “Scope Statement” or “Statement of Work” defines exactly what will be done, what won’t be done, and how the expected results are to be measured. This is significant when a new issue, change in direction and outside factors surface and need addressing. Time, cost, and resources associated with these inevitable changes must be assessed in relation to the scope of the project. This makes the Scope Statement an excellent tool to help control changes so the project can be completed.

We had some great ideas about getting new technology, we designed, built and installed it but the project failed!

Too often we focus on the project management of technology initiatives and lose sight of the business transformation. Today’s project world is not limited to technology; it has to have the business process side fully engaged and ready for change.

There needs to be a focus on the business transformation, which may include:

  • Business and system process changes
  • Human resource skill reassessment and retraining
  • Human resource expected behavior changes
  • Customer impacts
  • Organizational impacts
  • The project initiative cannot reap the true benefits at completion without the above considerations and change. An equal amount of time and effort has to be spent on business transformation, as on the technology solution development — each is dependent on the other for project success.

    Without effective communication, projects will fail

    It is estimated that approximately 90% of a Project Manager’s time is spent communicating. Project work requires constant communication with participants such as Sponsors, Vendors, Team Members, Customers, and any others impacted by the results of the project initiative.

    Without effective communication, it is difficult to assess progress, issues, risks, participation and engagement of team members.

    Project managers typically represent the focal point for receiving and initiating communications; however, all project participants have the responsibility of communicating with each other as well as the project manager.

    Every project should have a Communication Plan that represents the “standards” for communicating among the stakeholders (who gets what and when). Effective communication is an ongoing part of the project.

    We have a project workplan but it’s not working.

    Project workplans require “ownership” and commitment of the team members. So who owns the project workplan?

    Too often the Project Manager thinks it belongs to him or her. A workplan cannot be developed without the input and subsequent feedback of all the project participants whose names are on the workplan. These participants are the ones who can identify deliverables, tasks, dependencies, when it needs done and how long it will take to complete.

    A Project Manager cannot possibly know all that the team collectively knows. Many team members may be inexperienced in development of a plan; this is where the Project Manager exercises the facilitation skills to get the information and organize it in an easily understood format for the team.

    Resources are key to any project.

    Resources have to be procured, managed and expensed. They must support the project during the timeframe indicated by the workplan. Project Sponsors generally support projects with dollars and people.

    It requires the commitment of adequate resources for projects to be executed for on time, on budget and to meet the stated objectives. Team members that are over allocated, over committed and over worked are unable to produce the best results.

    Reality may not permit full time commitments of people resources. If this is the case, adjust the Project Workplan to reflect the true estimate of availability of the people resources. Experience and expertise of people resources should also be considered so that your project completion date will reflect a more realistic scenario.

    We had a project that was delivered “on time, on budget and met the business objectives” but it was a failure – Why?

    Quality standards (and documented expectations of quality) must be built into the project for it to succeed. Start with a Plan for Quality and the metrics for measurement and control.

    Quality standards should be planned at the beginning of the project effort and monitored via a quality assurance process throughout the project. Furthermore, there must be quality controls for monitoring after the conclusion of the project.

    Quality metrics are not an after-thought for a project. Rework is expensive and can exceed the cost of the project. Not having quality standards from the beginning effects all aspects of the deliverables as well as the stakeholders (including customers), the operational areas and the project team members.

    Karen McIsaac is president of Project Managers, Inc., which specializes in maximizing return on project investments. She can be reached at 704-332-6611 or kmcisaac@ProjectMgrs.com