Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Stop Wasting Money on Bad Project Management

In these times of transition we are astounded at how many organizations continue to waste money on badly managed projects. In the past several months we have been asked to do some preliminary investigation on multi-million dollar projects. In each case they are considerably over-budget (in one case it is now $40 million USD). Our recommended action is to undergo an in-depth project health check/audit. Usually completed in several weeks, they deliver powerful recommendations based on the root causes of the problems. They include an implementation plan on how to immediately the recommendations to get the project back on track. In our experience, within a couple of months, the losses will stop and the projects will be moving in the right direction.

Here's the dilemma. The project leaders, directors and even some CEOs are concerned that this project health check/audit will be;
•A witch hunt
•Looking for blame and excuses
•Looking for scapegoats or victims
•An intrusion by the Project Management Office
•A mechanism for punishing the project manager and other resources for not following quality project management processes
•A way to strike fear into the heart of the project manager

So they often choose to hire a technical expert. For example, an engineer or network specialist, etc. in the hopes that throwing more money at the projects will turn them around. Then we do another quick analysis and the project's are usually worse than before. Our recommendation remains the same as before. We don't know what to do unless we can conduct a health check/audit in order to identify the problems.

On one recent project I asked the CEO: "If the project is over-budget by about 40 million, are you willing to invest less than 0.25% of this to do a health check that will probably save you millions?"

The response was depressing. They agreed but have still deferred their decision. In conversations with other members of the executive it became clear that there was concern on the part of the CEO that we might find something that will lead directly to him. Although we can never be certain whether or not this will be true, the intent of an audit is not to look for blame or excuses. Rather, it is designed to identify the root causes of the problems which have led to the current situation and to provide recommendations on how to get the project moving back in the right direction.

Don't make the same mistakes. Project health checks/audits will provide you with great benefits. Get rid of the fear and move toward the opportunities.

All the best,