Project Planning and Project Management are two very different but vitally important aspects of successful project implementation. It’s simply impossible to reach a fully successful result if either part is not done responsibly and thoroughly. Due to the significance of these aspects its amazing that they are so often over looked resulting in either a poor completion of a project or worse, an all-out failure. According to a study in 1995 by the Standish Group, it was determined that more than half of all IT projects are considered “challenged” and nearly 30% are considered failed. How can something so important have such a high level of failure?
Let’s look at the first half of the equation, Project Planning. Projects are sometimes set into motion before all the information has been gathered and can create a work environment that is chaotic. For example, how often has a manager or supervisor approached an employee and inform them to get started on a new project only to have the employee point out a technical feature that literally won’t allow the project to move forward. This is because scope of the project was never properly reviewed. The project planning phase has four key goals; “establish the business requirements, establish cost, schedule, list of deliverables, and delivery dates, establish resource plans, and finally to obtain management approval” (Watt). Each of these goals is essential to complete before even considering if a project should actually be undertaken.
The most important aspect of the Planning Phase is almost always examining the scope of the project. As discussed in class, and almost every document ever written on project management, it is essential to get all the people in “the room” when planning out a project. Input should be taken form every level of an organization to ensure all parties understand their roles and can provide valuable feedback for the planning phase. As in the example above, upper level management is often unaware of potential constraints that may exist further down the line and need to make sure they are making decisions with all the information and not just a narrow view.
So if this is such a common sense step to begin a project, why do so many projects fail? The answer is because of numerous reasons, all of which are equally as likely. The first and foremost reason is because of a failure to understand the true purpose of a project. The goal of the project is often over looked or poorly stated that one team interprets the goal completely different than another. Take for example a small project recently undertaken at my company. A new solar sensor was purchased with the plan to install them throughout a region in an effort to collect consumption data on the electrical grid. The devices were purchased, a deployment strategy to install them in the field was created, and finally… the IT team was notified of the new devices informing them they would need to be tracked in the consumption tracking software. Only the problem is, the devices weren’t compatible with the software. Literally hundreds of devices were purchased and before they could be installed, were essentially useless. (This has unfortunately happened in my organization on more than one occasion.)
Essentially, this is why good Project Planning needs to be considered just as important as good Project Management. Goal and vision need to be aligned throughout an organization to make sure objectives are clear, deliverables are obtainable, and coordination between overlapping teams can be established. Creating a clear and well-defined scope for the project is equally important to establishing the project and the timeline, but without the scope good luck getting funding or determining how long the project will take!
Betts, Mitch. (2003, August 25). Why IT Projects Fail
Ditmore, Jim (2013, October 28). Why Do Big IT Projects Fail So Often
Matta, Nadim F., Ashkenas, Ron. (2003, September). Why Good Projects Fail Anyway
Discenza, Richard. Forman, James B. (2007). Seven Causes of Project Failure
Watt, Bpayne. Watt, Adrienne. (2016). Overview of Project Planning
Calleam Consulting LTD. (2019). Why Do Projects Fail? 101 Common Causes.