Episode 197: How to Avoid Project Portfolio Failure - Part 2 (Free)
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Even though our industry has quite a bad track record of failed projects, that doesn’t mean that we need to stick our head in the sand. Joel Fleiss (www.eppora.com) is one of those thinkers who looks at the problem and tackles it head on.
In part one of the interview we looked at 7 areas of project portfolio failure and right now you are going to hear about 4 more: We start out with a recap of part 1 (just in case you’ve already forgotten what we talked about) and then we will see how Cost Estimations. Workflow and Warnings, Staff Productivity and Labor Resource Allocation can lead to project failure and what can be done about it.
Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Part 2 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.
Even though our industry has quite a bad track record of failed projects, that doesn’t mean that we need to stick our head in the sand. Joel Fleiss is one of those thinkers who looks at the problem and tackles it head on.
In part 1 of the interview, we looked at 7 areas of project portfolio failure and right now you are going to hear about 4 more: We start out with a recap of part 1 (just in case you’ve already forgotten what we talked about) and then we will see how Cost Estimations, Workflows and Warnings, Staff Productivity and Labor Resource Allocation can lead to project failure but most importantly, what can be done about it.
And now, don’t despair, there is help on the way. Enjoy the 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 back to The Podcast.
Joel Fleiss: Nice to talk to you again, Cornelius.
Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! So we are doing the part 2 of the series of 2 podcasts in which we talk about project portfolio failure, how we can help future project to mitigate that terrible track record that you’ve been talking about in the first interview. In 2008, only 32% of projects have been deemed as successful and in 2010, luckily, it was 37. So it went up by 5%. That’s the Standish Group’s Chaos Report.
But one thing that I was kind of asking you between the recordings here is: You know at the beginning of the first interview, you talked about how we started out in the Waterfall, moving over to Agile and how you’re really a proponent of the Synergistic methodology. And I was kind of lacking that or maybe I was missing something and then you explained it to me and the light went off. So Joel, would you please tell our listeners here at this point sort of as a recap of the first interview, what we talked about there and how all of these leads to the Synergistic methodology.
Joel Fleiss: Great! What a great opportunity. Okay. We discussed some major problems and ways of how to select projects. We talked about how companies don’t always select the best projects for their organization and how they can improve on that by having more criteria and the system that’s flexible enough that they can say which criteria is more important than others and improve the way that they always know what are the most important projects to the least important projects.
We then talked about how requirements are a major cause of project failures and such things as ambiguities and changes. Further, we talked about how schedules cause a lot of project failures in that people don’t oftentimes put in dependencies. People oftentimes have scheduled tasks that are too long and make other mistakes with schedules.
And we also talked about costing, how difficult it is to estimate the cost of projects and how we can improve on that. I think we briefly alluded to testing as well. What we implied by that is the Synergistic method corrects all those problems. So you no longer have those problems. And we are going to talk about a couple of other features in the rest of this podcast that will also help so that we expect that 37% rate to all of a sudden be in the 90’s in terms of successful projects.
Cornelius Fichtner: Alright. You mentioned cost estimates and that we discussed those in the first interview. And I just looked at the list of topics we talked about and cost wasn’t actually there. So we still have to talk about cost and why don’t we start out with doing that and let me ask the question cost estimates: Can a cost estimate actually cause a project failure?
Joel Fleiss: Well, not exactly. But what I’m implying by that is that cost estimates are often a critical criteria in determining which project is selected.
Cornelius Fichtner: Okay.
Joel Fleiss: So too often, a project’s actual cost after completion is many factors above what was originally estimated. We’ve all heard of the 1 million-dollar project that cost 7 million dollars and the 50,000-dollar thing that cost 300,000.
Cornelius Fichtner: Oh, the Sydney Opera House right which was like what, 400%?
Joel Fleiss: Yeah, whatever. Huge numbers.
Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah!
Joel Fleiss: Of course sometimes, this is due to additional requirements that are continuously are added to the original requirements. So it’s kind of an unfair assessment.
And very seldom does anybody ever complain when the cost of the project is far less than what was originally projected. So what happens far too often is project sponsors were trying to get their project selected for implementation often underestimate the cost because they know if the cost is less, they are more likely to be selected.
So part of project failure is implementing the wrong projects. And what we’re looking at is to have a better system that would alleviate that problem. So in all the estimating tools, we’ve seen, it’s lined with codes, the complexity of code or construction industry uses similar things about square footage. We haven’t seen one good cost estimating tool.
So what do we do about it? We said that: what are the projects all about? And it really is about its requirements. The requirements should really define everything that a project needs to accomplish its effort. So if one implements the requirements, then one has implemented the project. So the cost should be whatever the cost of the requirements are. What should be the cost of the requirements is really all the tasks associated with implementing the requirements and the project schedule. So what we’re suggesting that a tool should do is it should link each requirement, each low-level requirement, with the tasks that are needed for its accomplishment.
Now, lots of times a task will be amortized over multiple requirements. In that case, you need to be able to link a requirement that uses a certain percentage of a task. So if you have a tool such as a Synergistic tool that we’re imparting, then you can look at the cost at anytime of what’s left to be spent, what will be spent and what have we spent so far in milliseconds. You can also look at any requirement and get the same results. You can say: What have we spent on this requirement, what are we going to spend and know that in split second.
Cornelius Fichtner: Next on our list of items that you say need to be improved in order to move towards an improved and more Synergistic methodologies are Workflows and Warnings. What are Workflows and Warnings? What’s your definition here? And how they are a cost of my project failing?