project success tips

Project success tips

In my view, project failure isn’t an option. Let’s talk project success tips.

On a LinkedIn Group that I am a member of I read a large number of the posts related to the question of what the main cause of failure for a Business Process Improvement project was.

The discussions was interesting because the views came up with the usual list of suspects in relation to standard failure scenarios –

  • not enough senior management buy in
  • scope not correct
  • change management poorly carried out
  • no focus on the people aspects of the improvement
  • poor communication
  • fix wanted quickly, when it’s not always possible
  • etc., etc.,

Whilst I agree that these items are all contributors to project failure there are a couple of things that I think are even more key to the success, not failure, of projects – the first is ‘What are the needs of the customer/client that the change is being implemented for?

I will use an example of a process improvement project that I managed.  It was taking up to 25 days in some cases for people to receive a ‘welcome’ pack that accompanied their membership to the company I was working for.  This of course was far too long in the eyes of the customer.  Their expectation (or need) was to receive it within 3-5 working days of signing up.  Sounds simple doesn’t it.

The ability to track the process and understand where the problems were in the process flow, was critical to the success of this project, because once these steps were uncovered, it was then a matter of determining who or what needed to be investigated in order to change the process flow, to make it shorter and meet the customers needs.

In this case, it turned out to be an external service provider who was supporting that part of the process, and only in discussing their processes with them did we get to the bottom of why the process was taking so long.  Once this part of the process was fixed, within a day the turn around occurred and the customers needs were being met.

For me, needs analysis is a key part of determining what is going to make a process improvement project successful.

I don’t consider failure is an option.

Whilst the project itself was looking at systems and improvements to the whole end to end processes, it was this one simple and smaller change that actually made all the difference to the entire process, and the customers perception of the process (which is more important).

So if you are undertaking process improvement projects, rather than biting off too much and wanting to change everything, why not start with smaller chunks, and determine the value of those changes first.  The rest of the process might actually be reasonable with these minor changes made.

In any project, there is always going to be a way to gain what is needed.  Yes, it might mean narrowing the scope, or not having the bells and whistles version of something, but isn’t it better to have a positive result than not, because you are willing to make these compromises.

My philosophy when managing projects is ‘There is no NO..  there is always a way, so tell me how we can achieve it”.  “What do I need to do to help you make it happen?”  You will be amazed at the results that you get from using this approach.


Written by Karen Munro