Why Projects Fail
It is quite funny, actually, how almost all talking around project management is focused on methods and frameworks like Prince2, PMBoK, and IPMA. But when you ask project managers why their project failed they almost always mention the lack of communication as the main reason, often along with a lack of support from their superiors.
And what is the result of a failed project? Either someone (the project manager) will be fired or demoted or nothing will happen – “we just need to try harder the next time”, someone will say. And then, again, the talking will start developing around methods and frameworks and how to get certified and how to hire project managers with more experience with one or the other such method.
A good example, I think, of how not to solve the problem!
How to solve the problem
As I have mentioned in some of my other posts, I am not against methods and certification. I am, however, against solving a different problem than the one you have! And many organizations are not sufficiently mature to really get anything out of a solid methodology focus when it comes to project management. They are instead at a level where they need to learn how to talk to each other. Advanced methods can be attached later, but the initial approach to improving the project management success rate should be based on arranging for the communication to work better.
The technology issue
We live in a world where technologies are changing all the time – I guess that today many young people have never seen a video tape recorder even though it was a must for everybody to own such a thing just a few years ago. And emails are being used but in a different way now. It is my impression that most people do not read all their emails – they throw a quick glance on the long list of today’s emails and click on the few of them that look important or interesting. The rest just keeps rolling further down the list of unread mails.
Telephone calls and SMS’es are also means of communication but without structure. They can help changing direction but rarely help preserving the info that was the basis of the change. Meaning that they do not participate much in the team learning process, as they do not permanently improve how things are done.
Meetings are great for getting to know the views of your team mates but meetings take time and if people are not all at the same location at the same time it might be very diffficult to even arrange the meeting. Video conferences comes in as a good second – will definitely be a better choise than emails in most cases but should be supplemented with someting written, memos or minutes, to make sure that the conference is not just a workless break in time, soon to be forgotten.
So how can we fix this communication problem that ruins so many projects in real life?
Well, technologies change, as mentioned above, and today there are great tools that will help establish a platform for communication.
We have seen a number of years with unused or even useless intranet solutions. They were meant to gather information and make it available as an effort in line with the ideas of knowledge sharing and the learning organization. But since they were not really part of the daily routines for anyone, they were often seen by the team as an annoyance rather than a help.
A tool like Bitrix24 has changed this. The tool is being used through the day by all team members because they get their tasks from there, they register their time there, and they have facilities for organizing their work – also in Bitrix24. It is quite obvious for them to also use the platform’s rich set of communication features to keep in touch with the team and to share knowledge. Now, with this tool, it is actually seen as a great help to gather and share information and to maintain a good level of communication around both the individual tasks and the whole project.
As Bitrix24 even makes it possible to work on several projects at the same time in the same environment and to do all the company communication along with this, the team members rightfully feel that the tool is a great help.
And so Bitrix24 becomes an important part of the solution on the communication problem.
The support from the project manager’s superior then?
Well, first of all an organization should not initiate any projects that do not have a solid support from management. If the project isn’t important to anyone, the project will not be able to attract the needed attention all along its life time – and in the end, this will make it difficult to complete it successfully.
Secondly, if there is some initial sense of importance, it must be maintained. An all-the-time up-to-date overview of the project, based on real data from the team members, will help keeping the project hot in the minds of management who will then more likely keep the support level high. So Bitrix24 helps here as well.
The bottom line
Bitrix24 is not a silver bullet that will take away all problems and run the project for you, but it certainly does offer a solution on some of the main problems of real life projects.