Staff Wars: Change Star, Rogue None – Part 5: Stay on Target
This is part 5 in our series focused on guiding you on how to implement a new project initiative without it getting blown up.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are the author’s own and do not represent Erecruit’s support of a particular alliance – Empire or Republic.
While we would all love to think that, when organizing a project – the plan, the people, the message, the tasks, the timelines, the budget, the requirements– we got it perfect the first time, reality has, many times, proven differently. This is why it is critical to repeatedly (and not just at pre-defined milestones) re-evaluate the project.
Throughout a project’s lifecycle, failure to continually inspect and adapt, where necessary, will invariably lead to delays, budget constraints or overages, decreased momentum and employee engagement, and even possible outright collapse of the project.
Here are some recent statistics that illuminate the consequences of inadequate oversight and evaluation:
- One in six IT projects has an average cost overrun of 200% and a schedule overrun of 70%
- 78% surveyed said their project requirements are usually or always out of sync with the business
- 80% of teams say they spend at least half their time reworking completed tasks
- 77% say they don’t always agree on when a project is done, leaving the door open for ongoing rework and scope creep
With these figures (and many more) to enumerate the problems with project execution, it’s pretty evident a project’s success should be continually evaluated, adjusting the plan based on your findings, before it’s too late. Just as in our personal life, with business initiatives we need recognize and be willing to pivot or abandon a path if it no longer makes sense or benefits us.
This is not just reviewing the outstanding tasks and determining if any will result in a delay. I’m referring to continual project evaluation, including (but not limited to):
- Project Tasks and Deliverables. Are there any items that are no longer relevant to the project’s main vision and strategic goals/success measurements? Do they now have a different priority?
- Project Team Members. Are there any team members you should remove or add, based on gaps within the team?
- Project Design. Is there anything in the original design you should now tweak, based on new information?
- Project Requirements. Are there any requirements that are no longer needed? Are there new business needs identified?
- Project Timeline. Do you need to reassess the timeline based on new information or changes to any of the above?
Without repeated, holistic inspection of the project, a tiny flaw – even one that no one would have anticipated being of concern – could slip through, creating a vulnerability to your organization’s change initiative success.
As we look back at our Project Death Star team, it’s quite clear how and where the project went awry:
- Conflicting purpose for the starship
- Ambitious goals with unrealistic deliverable timelines
- Poor project team selection, including leaders with misaligned objectives, selfish ambitions, and opposition to project vision and goals
- Disengaged or employees unaware of change impact
- Managing project through force, resulting in blaming and fear of being honest about impending issues
- Failure to identify design flaws and adjust for project missteps and delays
If you want to be a change star within your organization and help drive the success of your next project, keep these tips in mind:
- Create a well-thought out vision
- Define (and measure decisions against) strategic goals and objectives, including small, short term goals that are achievable, to help reinforce position outcomes and keep momentum on course
- Identify the “right” members to be on the project team
- Engage your employees early and often to create ownership and excitement
- Invest in operational opportunities to drive successful process design and accountability
- Reevaluate your project regularly
- Be prepared to inspire and promote change, every day
In doing so, you will be on the right track towards a successful change transformation within your organization and can avoid the destruction of your beloved project due to poor leadership, faulty design (intentional or overlooked) and resistant, rogue employees.
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 Harvard Business Review. “Why Your IT Project May Be Riskier Than You Think”
 Geneca. “Doomed from the Start? Why a Majority of Business and IT Teams Anticipate Their Software Development Projects Will Fail”
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