I was inspired to research the project management topic – in particular how we measure the success of a given project - by my experience as a senior project manager overseeing large-scale construction projects within India’s fast-growing oil industry.
Projects such as these invariably involve a large degree of technical complexity, adherence to sensitive environmental and social issues, substantial amounts of capital, and the involvement of a great many stakeholders. Working within such a challenging environment, delivering a project to schedule, on budget and quality assured, is never certain. In fact, in many cases, project failure is the outcome.
And the reasons for failure are numerous, but generally can be categorised as:
More specifically, projects often suffer from organisations paying insufficient attention to supply chain integration, relationship management, project planning, and social concerns.
Achieving project management success
My research suggests that the chances of achieving project management success can be greatly enhanced by the application of an eight-step troubleshooting method - in essence, a tool for measuring an organisation’s ‘project management maturity’.
Step 1: Identify critical success factors - characteristics, conditions or variables that individually and collectively have a major impact on the project’s success.
Step 2: Use critical success factors to capture the perceptions project team members have about their project management practices and performance.
Step 3: Conduct a sample survey of members of the project team, ideally those with more than five years’ project management experience, which is representative of the organisation as a whole.
Step 4: Analyse survey data statistically and summarise project performance.
Step 5: Organise interviews and focus groups with selected project team members to identify issues and challenges involved in achieving superior performance against each critical success factor, and capture senior project executive perceptions on project management maturity whilst validating the outcomes of earlier surveys.
Step 6: Propose means for improvement and prioritise improvement projects using criteria brainstormed for this purpose by senior executives.
Step 7: Implement the improvement projects in a planned manner, involving and consulting all relevant stakeholders as necessary.
Step 8: Measure project management performance again, using the project management perception survey, to determine whether substantial improvement has been achieved.
This step-by-step approach is user-friendly and sufficiently flexible to be applied to any project.
Its overarching purpose is to foster a culture of continuous quality improvement that adds value to any organisation, regardless of the industry and location it operates in.
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