The PM Podcast


Project Management Interviews for Beginners and Experts

Episode 197: How to Avoid Project Portfolio Failure - Part 1 (Free)

Play Now:

This episode is sponsored by The PDU Insider - Free PDUs Info For Everyone:
The PDU Insider Logo

Many of you will remember Joel Fleiss (www.eppora.com) from our past interviews with the PMI LA Book Club. We heard him review one of Patric Lencioni’s books. But Joel is more than just a book reviewer, he is a senior project manager and project management consultant in his own right.

He has worked in our industry for several decades, both as a project manager and in development of project management software and he has seen the good, the bad and the ugly projects. And it’s the ugly projects that fascinated him most as he was wondering: Why do we have such a bad track record in successful projects and what can we do about it?

The answer to this question can (and does) fill several books, so it’s not surprising, that we had to cut his interview and his answer up and deliver it to you as a two-part series.

In part 1 of our look at portfolio failure, Joel and I are going to look at  a Definition of Project Failure, Project Methodology Evolution, Goals and Tactics, Project Selection, Requirements management, Schedules and Testing. Joel will explore what the problems are and what he recommends can be done about it.

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Part 1 of Episode #197. This is The Project Management Podcast™ at www.pm-podcast.com and I am Cornelius Fichtner. Nice to have you with us.

Many of you will remember Joel Fleiss from our past interviews with the PMI Los Angeles Book Club. We heard him review one of Patrick Lencioni’s books. But Joel is more than just a book reviewer. He is a senior project manager and project management consultant in his own right.

He has worked in our industry for several decades, both as a project manager and in development of project management software and he has seen the good, the bad and the ugly projects. And it’s the ugly projects that fascinated him most as he was wondering: Why do we have such a bad track record in successful projects and what can we do about it?

The answer to this question can and does fill several books, so it’s not surprising, that we had to cut this interview and his answers up and deliver it to you as a 2‑part series.

This episode of The Project Management Podcast™ is sponsored by our free newsletter, The PDU Insider™. The mission of The PDU Insider™ is to provide information and education about Professional Development Units (PDUs), those PDUs, to holders of PMI® credentials. We want to help you understand the Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) Program, shed light on the various categories in which you can earn PDUs and help find high-quality PDU activities that not only allow you to earn PDUs but most importantly help you grow as a project manager. So stop by at www.pduinsider.com and sign up for the free newsletter. Earning PDUs was never simpler.

In part 1 of our look at portfolio failure, Joel and I are going to look at a Definition of Project Failure, Project Methodology Evolution, Goals and Tactics, Project Selection, Requirements Management, Schedules and Testing. Joel will explore what the problems are and what he recommends can be done about it.

Joel Fleiss is the President of EPS, providing portfolio management software tools that simplify determining how to optimally select which projects should be funded from a portfolio of potential projects and optimally allocating labor resources across multiple projects to maximize an organization’s return on investment (ROI).

He is a member of the Project Management Institute and has his PMP certificate. He was responsible for product design in 3 companies that he worked for or owned and has managed the successful implementation of numerous software products. He was the project manager or acted as the project office director for hundreds of successful projects during which time he started putting together the foundation for what has become the “ABCs of Requirements Based Project Management.

And now, get out your copy of the Chaos Report and enjoy the interview.

Podcast Interview

Female voice: The Project Management Podcast’s feature Interview: Today with Joel Fleiss, President of Enterprise Portfolio Software, Incorporated.

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello Joel. Welcome to The Project Management Podcast™.

Joel Fleiss: Hello Cornelius. It’s a real pleasure to be here again.

Cornelius Fichtner: Well, and we’re happy to have you. Most of our listeners, they know you from the PMI Los Angeles Book Club Podcasts that we are doing. But today, you are here in your own right discussing project portfolio failure. We’re going to do 2 podcasts on this series discussing how we can help future projects to mitigate the really terrible track record that we have with so many unsuccessful projects.

So to get started here, tell us a little bit about what are the topics that we are going to discuss in our 2 podcasts.

Joel Fleiss: Cornelius, in this podcast, I will cover the definition of project failure, project methodology evolution. We’ll look at the goals and tactics to help mitigate this global problem. We’ll talk about project selection and how organizations select their projects and how we can improve that. We’ll then talk about three topics that are very relevant to project failure --- that’s requirement, schedules and testing.

Then in the second podcast, I’ll cover cost definition. I’ll cover work flows and warnings, staff productivity and then finally labor resource allocation. Of course during the end of both sessions, I’ll answer whatever questions you might have.

Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! Well then, let me start out with my first question for you right away. You mentioned project failure. What is project failure? How do you define project failure?

Joel Fleiss: Well, let me not give you my definition. Let me give you the industry definition. They define it as ‘not satisfying the triple constraint of cost, schedule and scope; where scope is all of the projects’ requirements.’

Many in the industry like to include satisfying the end user or the sponsor success criteria. Being that, you may produce the greatest product in a project. But if the end user doesn’t like the product, well the project really wasn’t a success.

Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! Earlier on, I said that we have really terrible track record and you also mentioned it wasn’t a success. What are some of these failure statistics here that we have? What do we know about failing projects?

Joel Fleiss: Well probably the most recognized group that does surveys about project success and failure is the Standish group. They have been doing it for significantly over a decade and every 2 years, they come out with a new set of statistics for three project categories which are successful, challenged and failed.

By successful, they mean the project that was delivered on time, within budget fulfilling all the requirements. By challenged, they mean a project that was delivered over-budget, late or with less than the required features. And by failed, they mean a project that was cancelled prior to its final delivery.

Now in 2008, we had 32% of the projects successful. In 2010, we had one of the first increases in a long time and that’s 37% of the projects were successful meaning slightly over one-third. Challenged, the project was either late, over budget or didn’t satisfy all the requirements. In 2008, it was 44% challenged and in 2010, it was 42%. And failed, 2008 was 24% and in 2010 was 21%. So you can see that we’re approximately 1 out of every 3 projects, slightly better than 1 out of 3 projects are successful.

In the survey that was conducted by the Standish group was for worldwide projects. It was more than 10,000 projects that they looked at. Another fact that’s even more disturbing is that large projects tend to fail more often than small projects.

Cornelius Fichtner: Wow, those are absolutely amazing numbers. I mean I heard that they were bad and I’ve looked at older Chaos Reports but I haven’t seen the latest numbers there. And even in 2010, only 37% successful. That is just abysmal. What can we do about it?

 

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

Did you like this episode of The PM Podcast? Did you like it well enough to take two minutes and go to the iTunes store to give us a rating or review?  Yes? I would really appreciate it!  Please go to http://www.pm-podcast.com/review and tell the world how well you think we are doing.

Pin It