Project planning: 8 ways to kill your project

- June 27, 2009 3 MIN READ

There are actions I’ve seen which are guaranteed to kill your project’s chance of success. Here are eight ways projects get sabotaged, and project planning tips to prevent them.

1. Don’t bother project planning

As the old maxim goes “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. The nature of your project will drive the level to which you need to plan, but all projects need planning. Before you start a project; you should have a very clear picture of what the final outcome will look like, how you’re going to achieve it, and what resources you will need, both internally and externally.

2. Ensure the project has nothing to do with your business objectives

If your project is not directly tied to achieving your business goals, why are you doing it? You may be looking to gain more customers, drive efficiencies in processing, or gain better control and lower the risk of your business operations. Whatever it is, if the project is not measurably contributing to these business outcomes; don’t do it.

3. Only get one opinion, quotation or piece of advice

When sourcing quotes or advice for your project, or when choosing a product solution; don’t go for the first one that comes by. Even if the product or quote seems to match your needs exactly, you should still take the time to obtain a variety of independent opinions. Multiple quotes will not only give you a basis for comparison and negotiation, potentially saving you money, but you also learn more about your own problem and requirements in the process.

4. Expect to pay too little for your project

Projects are like anything else you spend money on. There is a fair price for the project, and there is a cheap price. And of course you can pay too much. If you only want to pay the cheapest price; you need to understand and factor in the consequences and limitations of what that project will do for you. If you buy a cheap car, you know you’re not going to be able to race against Schmacher, and you’re more likely to need to spend more time and money in the long run servicing it. More often than not, when paying too cheaply for your project up-front; you end up spending more than the original fair price in getting it over the line.

Want more articles like this? Check out the project management section.

5. Screw your provider

This is related to paying too little. Any project is made up of, not only the major deliverables agreed in the quoting and acceptance process, but also a thousand and one little modifications and extras. When a provider is bled to the bone during the negotiation process; the only choice left for the provider is to account and bill for every tiny variation to compensate them for the profit margin lost in the original project scope. You are likely to get better long-term value from your provider if you pay a fair price. Don’t forget while there is a long-term value of your customers, there is also a long-term value of your providers.

6. Promise something you can’t deliver

As provider, it’s important to instil hope and flexibility when pitching for projects, however promising features or capabilities which don’t exist in your product or service is fraught with danger. There of course, is a possibility your product will be ready in time, but more often than not you will need to scramble to deliver a poor quality version of what was promised. This not only raises the risk of a project failure, but also creates distrust in the client’s mind.

7. Be optimistic

Contrary to popular belief, being too optimistic when project planning is not a good thing. This isn’t implying that we should be pessimistic, but we need to be measured in our expectations of what is possible. By considering all the things that could go wrong on the project and being conservative in our estimates, we are more likely to deliver a successful outcome for all stakeholders.

8. Don’t communicate

A project manager’s primary responsibility is communication, and they’ll generally spend 60% of their time communicating with stakeholders and those delivering the project. If all parties to the project are not on the same page, at all times, the project is bound to diverge from original expectations. Whether you have a formal project manager or not, don’t forget the constant communication required to successfully deliver a project.

What guaranteed project killers have you seen?

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"