Addressing the risk of failure within your organisation's projects

An intelligent approach to risk is essential.

by MT Staff
Last Updated: 21 Jun 2018

Project failure is a fact of business life, and it can be costly.

Axelos - the government-backed scheme designed to develop global best-practice in project management - published a survey last summer and the findings were stark. They found that 31% of business projects surveyed were failing and estimated that the overall cost of project failure to the UK economy to be in the region of £250bn.

The survey cited a range of reasons for failure, not least of which was human resources. So how can organisations ensure they have the right people in place to deliver success?

Investing in your project management talent is essential and there are many different options available.

In the first instance, Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) provides best-practice principles to successfully navigate the programme lifecycle. MSP courses guide managers in how to break initiatives down into smaller, more manageable projects and so transform a vision for change into a practical framework. A compliment to this is MS Excel Training to track changes and RAID logs.

PRINCE2 also specifically addresses many of the causes of project failure and supplies managers with the framework they need to divide a complex plan into a series of practical steps. One of the other major issues with large, long-term projects is the risk of it diverging from goals and outcomes established at the outset. PRINCE2 courses (such as PRINCE2 Cardiff) instil in candidates the robust processes they need to help them properly consider issues surrounding project assurance and continued business justification.

Every project is different and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. That’s why it’s important to broaden your organisational capability and methodologies beyond the traditional approach. This is where an appreciation of agile could prove beneficial.

Agile methodologies (such as Scrum and Lean) focus on sprints of activity which can be iterated and modified as the project develops. According to the ‘agile manifesto’, this approach focuses on individuals and interactions over processes and tools; working software over comprehensive documentation; customer collaboration over contract negotiation; and responding to change over following a plan.

The agile approach is underpinned by an openness to sharing ideas and promoting collaboration within teams dispersed across a number of locations.

The mindset and ethos driving agile may not be appropriate for some organisations, particularly those that are hierarchical or that have a ‘command and control’ management style. But awareness of agile can offer the fresh perspective your organisation needs. Many of the lessons within agile can be absorbed from a range of Agile courses and quickly introduced to project teams.

In an environment where one in three projects (within the Axelos survey) are considered failures, it’s critical for organisations to invest in their managers to ensure their skills are up to date and understanding of best practice is current. MSP, PRINCE2 and Agile will help you do this and so instil the frameworks, processes and culture you need to achieve success. 

Image credit: Szymon Mucha/Shutterstock

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