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Steve Pulman

Asq Projects Lessons Learnt (Part I)

Posted in by on December 23, 2013 and has no comments yet

We doubt that anyone ‘enjoys’ failing, especially when the stakes are high – we certainly don’t at Asq! But we do take mistakes as an opportunity to learn something about how we might be able to improve an area of our work. In this week’s post, we take a candid look at some major lessons we learnt throughout 2013 and how we might avoid them next time.

Issue: Project Sponsor is unavailable or does not provide necessary support on a project

Possible impacts and behaviours:

  • A lack of engagement by the Project Sponsor might lead to delegation of the responsibility to someone else or to other stakeholders who do not have the appropriate authority, are also unresponsive or, worse, obstruct the project
  • Difficult or impossible to get decisions made about budget, priorities and changes
  • An overall lack of support and direction

Why do they do this?

  • They don’t understand what their role is in the project
  • Their other work pressures prevent them from dedicating the time needed to the project
  • They have unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved without their participation
  • They use the 80/20 rule for successfully completing a project without participation so a risk/effort management strategy is a conscious choice

What can we do about it? (Lessons learnt)

  • Education and communication – the Project Sponsor needs to fully understand their role in a successful project and what everyone expects from them
  • Work out ways we can support the sponsor so they can provide us with what we need for a successful project without putting unnecessary pressure on them
  • Brief them and communicate with them regularly so they understand that they need to be involved for the project to succeed
  • You might not be able to do much about a Project Sponsor using the 80/20 rule for successfully completing a project without participation but, if you recognise that this is their position, prepare some formal communication about the project to highlight the evolving project and escalate formally as a method of attaining attention

Issue: Agile Methodology and unrealistic expectations

The Hype

There has been a lot of hype about Agile methodology delivering fast and effective projects.  Agile Methodologies are excellent and do deliver successful projects, but in some contexts there has been (dare I say) ‘over selling’ of what is achievable and what is needed to be successful using this methodology.

The Impact

We are seeing the impact of this hype manifesting itself in the unrealistic expectations of Senior Management and the executive board; this is due to a fundamental misunderstanding of the Agile Methodology and what is needed to be successful. They might be insisting we follow a methodology that they don’t fully understand and that might not be suitable for their needs.

What can we do about it?

Agile methodologies are excellent (as are others) so it all comes down to education and communication with the Senior Management, Project Sponsor and team. Ask them what they understand about the methodology and why they specifically prefer this approach over others. You might even need to present a few options to them to show them time over cost benefit etc for using an alternative method. Don’t be forced into a methodology you know will fail, purely to respond to a client’s request. Communication is key!

You’ll see more lessons learnt in future blog posts! Share with us in the comments below what you have learnt and how you now do things differently.

Do you want to ensure you have the right team for your current project? Take a few moments to complete our Project Management Experience Analysis and we’ll send you some feedback about how things might be improved.

Contact Asq for more information about how we can help keep your projects on track.

About the Author

Steve Pulman

Steve Pulman

Founder and Managing Director

Steve founded Asq Projects in 2001 after a long and successful career in Portfolio, Programme and Project Management for blue chip firms in his native New Zealand and subsequently in Australia, UK and China.

Prior to the establishment of Asq, Steve spent 6 years consulting across change management, solution design and business analysis having had experience in all areas of designing, implementing and supporting IT systems, and 5 years providing design, technical and project management services for 24/7 contact centres.

Steve brings broad sector experience to Asq leadership having delivered projects of varying complexity across Banking & Finance, Government, Transport & Logistics, Pharmaceutical & Healthcare and IT & Telecommunications.

Leading from the front, Steve maintains professional accreditations across PRINCE2, AGILE, P3O and other methodologies to ensure the business remains totally relevant to its customers from top to bottom.

Connect with Steve via LinkedIn,  Asq or via the Asq LinkedIn group.

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