Many years ago, when I was just a few years out of university, I heard an alarming statistic: that most projects (70% or more) were delivered late, cost more and provided less than originally planned. Some were never completed at all. I recall discussing this with my then colleagues and associates, because it seemed like an important problem that needed to be solved. My colleagues said that new systems and processes were being developed, and that this would alleviate the problem.
Fast forward a generation... Many systems and processes have been introduced—including MS-Project, PMP, Prince2, PMO and others—but have the expected gains been achieved? Sadly, they have not. As a recently published KPMG report indicates, most projects are still late, cost more, provide less or fail outright. On this evidence, little has changed. Much time and effort has been spent developing and promoting new systems—and millions of dollars are still being wasted.
So, what's gone wrong, and why haven't things improved? In my view, most project management systems and processes have failed to deliver any material gains, because they do not address the vagaries of the most crucial factor: people. A more holistic approach is required. Rather than spend more effort refining systems and introducing yet more processes, attention needs to turn to the people factors. The research literature is replete with information to guide a new generation of people-focussed effort. However, until someone takes up the challenge—to deal with the motivational, behavioural and other psycho-social factors—I suspect the wastage will continue.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and boardcraft; our place in the world; and other topics that catch my attention.