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3 Ways Process Can Prevent Project Death

The Problem

Over the years, reports from the Standish Group and others have found that close to 70% of projects fail to meet expectations and very large software projects have only a 6% success rate. More recently, PMI's Pulse of the Profession reported that project success rates have been declining by 10% since 2008. This quirky video made by IIL and PieMatrix sums it up.

So why do our projects still fail? Heck, new project management tools come out every month. Managers are sent to project management training and get certifications. But, success rates are not increasing. 

I believe that the solution has the the right process (incorporated lessons learned), engaged people who share ideas, and work execution technology that makes process improvement easy.

1) Make the right process slim, yet smart 

It's most critical to have the right processes for your projects. This means, the way in which you work is key to leading up to the the very best results. 

  • Start by cutting out the fat in your current process. Too much process content can overwhelm people.
  • Identify the core steps of what makes your project or business process succeed.
  • Incorporate into each critical step lessons learned and new ideas on how to get it done well.
  • Don't worry yet about the other, less critical or supporting steps. Just start executing.

2) Engage your people with your process

We hear reports about how employees are checked out. Projects are getting more complex, people are working extra hard, etc. Gallup says that 51% of workers are not engaged. However, there are ways to get your people engaged while improving your process results.

  • Add meaningfulness and clarity to why your people are doing the work they do.
  • Ask your people to help with the process trimming as discussed above. They will know what to cut and will feel ownership if you ask them.
  • Encourage people to capture lessons learned and physically show them that you are taking their ideas and improving the process. Give them credit and you will find more engagement, more collaboration, and more successful projects.
  • Once your refined process is awesome (and making good results), then slowly add more content as needed. Ask your people what is missing to make your process and projects faster, while have higher output quality. This innovation at work will get many people engaged.

3) Use smart process and collaboration technology

While you are slimming your processes and getting your people engaged, include technology at the same time. Tools in the market like business process management tools (BPM) have a lot of process workflow flexibility, but are not made for project execution. On the other hand, project and portfolio management tools (PPM) are the opposite- they are great for resource management and financial reporting, but are not designed for processes thinking. Find an online collaborative work execution tool that combines processes with projects in real time. 

  • The tool should make process thinking a reality, where you can design and execute the process within the same platform.
  • The tool should be super easy to use. If not, your people will become more disengaged and user adoption will be difficult.
  • The tool should foster process improvement. It shouldn't be just a task list tool that shows you what happened. It should allow your people to predict and carve a better future.

In summary, focus on getting your processes done right. Don't fuss too much and get your projects going ASAP. Engage your people, show them the 'why,' and ask for their ideas on how to make things better. Use a tool that's easy to use and designed to help improve processes. Then, watch your projects rise from the dead.

Written by Paul Dandurand, CEO of PieMatrix

Photo by LifeLike Creations