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Top 10 Sources of Project Failure

Do any of these conditions exist in your organization?

Do you see the possible linkages between them and poor project performance? Think about whether you are doing anything to address these potential roots of problems. If not, then you might be stuck at current performance levels

1) Failure to appreciate the impact of a multi-project environment on single project success. (More...)

1 a) Trying to put 10 pounds of projects through a 5-pound pipeline in a multi-project environment.

1 b) Wasting of resources through dedication to projects, making them unavailable to support other projects.

1 c) Failure of management to provide real guidance on priority of projects before they are planned and promised.

1 c1) As well as the flip side, ignoring rational plans and promises for perceived, but questionable, priorities. As an explanation of this, IMHO, project priorities are part of the initiation phase. Once promised and launched, all project have equal priority -- to complete when and how promised -- and deserve attention only proportionate to the threats to that promise.

1 c2) Another flip side regarding priorities -- failure of management to kill projects when their reason for existence goes away.

2) Irrational promises made due to a failure to take into account the variable nature of task performance. (More...)

3) Irrational promises made due to a failure to take into account the statistical nature of project networks. (More...)

4) Insufficient identification of dependencies necessary to deliver the project. (More...)

5) Focus on (and active management of) only a portion of what should be the full project -- a true bottom-line value adding outcome for the sponsoring organization. (More coming...)

6) Reliance on due-date, train-schedule, and actual-against-budget-to-date performance to drive project performance, resulting in the wasting of any safety included in the project (to account for 2 and 3 above) and in the effects of Parkinson's Law -- Work will expand to fill (and exceed) the time allowed. The whole concept of "time allowed" is a major culprit. (More...)

7) Wasting of resources through underutilization because they aren't the "best resource" for the job. (More coming...)

8) Wasting of the "best" resources through over-utilization, multi-tasking, and burn-out. (More coming...)

9) Delivering original scope when conditions/needs change. Flip-side: accepting changes to scope without sufficient analysis of impact on the project (or on other projects). (More coming...)

10) Multi-tasking, multi-tasking, multi-tasking, multi-tasking, and multi-tasking. Commonly thought of as a key problem in multi-project environments, where resources are expected to address tasks from different projects in a coincident time-frame, multi-tasking also impacts single project durations (and wastes safety) when dedicated resources are expected to wear several hats. (More... and more... and more...)

I don't like the sound of all those lists he's making - it's like taking too many notes at school; you feel you've achieved something when you haven't. -- Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle, 1948

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Frequently Asked Questions about Critical Chain-based project Management

Related links:

Check Out the Following Links for More About the TOC Approach to Project Management:

Critical Chain and Risk Management - Protecting Project Value from Uncertainty -- Project management is the practice of turning uncertain events into certain promises. If so, then project management is an extended excersie in risk management. The core concepts underlying Critical Chain-based project management directly support risk management and are described in this paper, expanded from one presented at PMI's 2001 National Symposium.

Getting Out From Between Parkinson's Rock and Murphy's Hard Place -- This first link will bring up a paper based on a poster presentation originally given at the 1998 New Jersey PMI Chapter's annual symposium, honored with a "best of the show" award by attendees, and later turned into an article published in PMI's PM Network magazine.

Program Management -- Turning Many Projects into Few Priorities with TOC -- This link will lead to a paper on the key attributes of a TOC Multi-Project Management environment. (Most projects are performed by resources shared with other projects. It can be deadly to ignore the resulting interactions, no matter how well you manage single projects.) This paper was originally presented at PMI's Global Symposium in Philadelphia in October of 1999 and is included in the proceedings of that conference. Audio tapes of the presentation are also available from PMI.

Project Portfolio Management - The First Cut is the Kindest Cut - One of the common problems faced by project-oriented organizations is having too many projects relative to their capacity. Therefore, one of the first things that needs to be done is to determine what can be done is to determine what should be done . . . and what should not be done . . .

Consumption of Effort and Conservation of Energy for Project Success -- This link will lead to an essay on the necessity for managing protective capacity in multi-project environments to get the most organizational throughput from the efforts of project resources.


"Quick and Dirty" Commentary . . .

Critical Chain Basics

A Critical Chain Schedule

The Sooner You Start, The Later You Finish

Multitasking Multiplies Lead Time


Discuss Critical Chain - An email-based discussion group

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