Any substantial goal requires the appropriate project to be developed in order to achieve it. Only the well-structured and thoroughly prepared plan of actions can give the chance to implement the ideas and achieve the desired goals. The paper is aimed at exploring the project management and its key factors doing a project to fail. Additionally, it assesses the importance of the evaluation of the customers’ needs to make a project successful.
Finally, the paper evaluates and discusses the tools and methods used in project management as well as the importance of the tools, used to store, retrieve, and reuse project knowledge produced by the previous project, both successful and failed.
Projects are essential for any organized activities, would it be business processes, government initiatives, or school science fair. The success or failure of a project depends on the variety of reasons and their combinations. Sometimes, even the smallest details that were not considered by the project management team could become the key factors of its failure. It is very important to know the reasons of the projects’ failures as well as to understand the importance of the careful assessment of the needs and requirements of the party that orders the project (the stakeholders). There is a need for tools that facilitate project management and help companies and organizations to manage a variety of ongoing projects.
Finally, it is highly important to know how the priceless knowledge and experiences drawn from the completed projects can be stored, reused, and shared in the process of future projects’ development and implementation. Projects require careful attention and thorough approach to their initiation, development, closure, and maintenance to provide the required results.
Project Failure: Reasons
There are many reasons why projects fail. They could fail even because of the small details that were addressed properly during one of such project’s stages. It can be something unusual or a force of nature. However, there are several reasons that can be called common for the project’s failures. The first reason is the fact of addressing the business requirements that appeared to be incorrect from the first place. In other words, if a project is focused on the wrong goal, it will fail in most cases (Hill, 2009; Maley, 2012).
Such a reason is very common, and it has a direct connection with the next issue that causes project failure: the inability to provide the required business case. It is the case when a project has not been carefully planned and thought out at the initiation stage.
The next major reason for failures is inappropriate governance. Some projects start without the careful choice of the project team, adequate sponsor, or clear goals. The projects with lack of the appropriate governance are doomed from the start if not to fail then to provide mediocre results (Hill, 2009; Maley, 2012). The need for such projects is rather questionable. The quality of the implementation of a project is very important, as well. Bad practices lead to the subsequently poor results of the project’s implementation. It may seem easy to implement a well-planned and prepared project, but the real process of the implementation has numerous unexpected issues that need to be resolved, such as risks or stakeholders’ communication, as well as team management.
Another substantial issue that can lead to the project’s failure is the problems with focus. Project team members can get distracted from the initial benefits that the project they work on should bring (Reschke & Schelle, 2013). People start to work on the other deliverables than were initially determined as the project’s benefit requirements. Finally, the environment of a project can change. In this case, it is utterly important to make critical decisions on time, manage expectations properly, and consider breaking the project that needs drastic changes to the smaller sub-projects. It would help to adapt to the changing environment appropriately.
Project Planning: Importance of the Needs’ Evaluation
Projects may fail due to different reasons. However, inappropriate assessment of the needs of a customer automatically leads to the inevitable holdups, change of the budget and schedule, and can cause project failure. The requirements provided by a customer are the core of the project. It is the major focus of the project’s team efforts (Reschke & Schelle, 2013; Maley, 2012). The clear understanding of the requirements can provide the project management team with a solid background that can be used for creating an effective plan of the project development, implementation, closure, and maintenance.
Customers’ requirements can change over time, and a team manager should be ready for the implementation of these changes if they are appropriate and realistic. Planning, in this case, is of the highest importance. Therefore, the effective planning of the meetings is beneficial for the project. It is the case when the possible implementation of changes must comply with the key millstones of the project’s schedule (Reschke & Schelle, 2013; Maley, 2012). Change of the requirements should coincide with the potential changes of the environment or be this changing environment, so the project management team would be able to work on the change of the project’s course without holdups and the excessive budgeting.
Another important issue regarding the importance of the evaluation of the customers’ needs is the viability of the project. The planning of the efforts to keep a project with changing initial requirements on track is very important because only the systematic approach to the implementation of the realistic changes can help to close such project successfully. Any chaos is inappropriate in project management planning. However, it should be said that chaos is inevitable in any project, but its extent can be controlled by the careful evaluation of the customers’ needs.
Project Management: Tools and Methods
Effective project management would not be possible without modern information technologies. Microsoft Project, Basecamp, SpiraPlan, and many others provide the project teams with numerous opportunities. Among the most significant advantages, the following can be named: collaboration, delegation, scheduling, tracking, bigger picture, and communication. Thus, project management tools allow collaborating on different tasks disregarding the distances, for example. A project team can share documents, track the updates, and check the current schedule of the project from the variety of places at the same time (Reschke & Schelle, 2013; Maley, 2012).
Then, project management software provides a project manager with the opportunity to delegate different assignments to the most qualified employees easily. It is possible to assign roles that each team member has in the project, and employees will have access only to the data they need, not a bit more. Project management tools have everything needed to follow the completion of the project appropriately, including powerful scheduling methods. The software is capable of notifying the personnel about approaching deadlines and helping employees in the planning of their activities within the project’s requirements.
Another benefit of the project management software is the opportunity to track the changes in a project. The appropriate modules record and store information about the completed tasks and those that are in the to-do list only; project team members responsible for each task is stated as well. In other words, such software makes it unnecessary to schedule a meeting, for example, to check the status of the current updates, made to the project.
One should also mention the usability of such software solutions that allow the new members of a project team to see the full picture about the project using the feature of snapshotting the project. The team can see the project from start to finish, including milestones and other important information (Reschke & Schelle, 2013; Hill, 2009). Finally, project management software facilitates the communication of the project team with the clients and suppliers involved in the project.
Project Knowledge and the Tools to Store, Reuse, and Share It
Modern information technologies provide the project management field with numerous opportunities to store project information, share it with the stakeholders and the interested parties, and reuse this information in the case of necessity. Any online tool can be used (Basecamp, for example, or any similar web-based system) to accumulate project’s information for the stated purposes. Such knowledge base is crucial for the future projects’ success because it allows exploring the project’s process, determine the gaps in planning, and learn the original and beneficial methods used by the team of an examined project to make the project work as it was supposed to work (Reschke & Schelle, 2013; Hill, 2009).
It is necessary to mention the important requirement that such a project knowledge base should have: it has to be online. In other words, such a system must be Web-based or must have access to the internet and the developed user-friendly online interface. Otherwise, the usefulness of the knowledge base that cannot provide the interested parties with the required data would be very low.
Another important requirement for such a system is credible sources with up-to-date information about the most recent projects in the required field (Reschke & Schelle, 2013; Hill, 2009). It helps to keep the knowledge base updated and free from the common mistakes made in the previous projects. Finally, such a knowledge base must have examples of the real projects that have failed due to a variety of reasons. Such bad examples should help project managers to learn how projects must not be planned, developed, implemented, and closed (Reschke & Schelle, 2013; Hill, 2009). It would be the priceless experience for any interested parties as there are many ways to work on a project considerably well, but there are only a few ways to make everything wrong, and these ways must be explored in detail.
Summing, the paper explored the importance of having careful attention and thorough approach to the projects’ initiation, development, closure, and maintenance, so the projects could provide the required results. Additionally, the following issues were explored and evaluated. The importance of the evaluation of the customers’ needs to make the project to provide the desired deliverables was assessed. The use of the project management tools and methods to make the project to be effectively planned was explored as well. Finally, the paper evaluated the need for the project knowledge and the tools to store, reuse, and share it for future projects’ success.
Hill, G.M. (2009). The complete project management methodology and toolkit. New York, NY: CRC Press.
Maley, C.H. (2012). Project management concepts, methods, and techniques. New York, NY: CRC Press.
Reschke, H., & Schelle, H. (2013). Dimensions of project management: Fundamentals, techniques, organization, applications. New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media.