Busting Free From Project Management Failure

First of all, you need to know that I am not, nor have any intention of being involved in very complex,  long-term projects. I have never been involved in building a bridge, putting a man on the moon or am ever likely to do so.

Nor am I a project management professional. The type of projects I am usually involved in a range between 3 and 12 months.

It is in this area where I believe that I have “got the T-shirts” (AKA developed a good level of expertise via the school of hard knocks)

I have been involved in many projects that failed to deliver on-time, cost or quality. Always frustrated that it could not be that complicated and that if I were to have a chance to play at least a significant role then I would make a difference.


Finally, only when I was part of a small autonomous team, did we achieve the kind of success that I had aspired to.

Within about 2 years we developed a reputation as the design centre that could achieve on time, cost and quality results with smaller teams than those in other facilities with much larger ones.


As we were achieving these results, there did not seem to be a recipe to start with. There were some Corporate requirements but over time things did form a pattern. Repeating that pattern brought further successes. Finally, the ingredients for the recipe were identified.


I think that I am a pretty logical person. The fact that I am not from a professional project management background, that I have run factories, I consider to be to my advantage and not disadvantage.

Not coming from a project management background means that I had only limited tools and no preconceived ideas. Coming from a manufacturing environment you have to develop an understanding that when running manufacturing, it is impossible to control everything yet still have to achieve your output.


Before I move on, I am going to assume that you understand what a Gantt chart is.  If you do not “Google” it or contact me for help.

Despite what many people are saying today with all of their different methodologies you must know the key tasks, the sequence, and the dependencies. As far as I am aware there is nothing better than a Gantt chart to help you achieve this. There are a number tools that are available to handle the subtasks which I will discuss on another occasion.


The approach

  1. Create your plan, include key steps and dependencies
  2. Sub-tasks that make the key steps should be identified as far as possible. You will miss some!
  3. Too much planning can create paralysis, so start as soon as you can
  4. Accept that things will go wrong or change. No matter how much you try to anticipate the issues, there will inevitably be “the one” that caught you off guard.
  5. When something goes wrong, fix it and fix it quickly
  6. Doing a few things well is better than a lot of things OK.
  7. Make sure that  everyone involved  in the project is regularly updated on what is going on (Good or bad) and they know their involvement
  8. Foster a culture of continually moving towards the objective
  9. Work on the most important things first, but if you are stuck then work on anything that will move the project forward, even if it is not needed now.
  10. You have responsibilities for your functional group, but do not work in silos.


Does this approach work?

From my point of view, it does. Of course, I am going to say this, aren’t I.

But facts are facts:

  1. 19 out of 20 product developments over a three year period on time, cost and quality
  2. Setting up a new facility 3 months ahead of schedule
  3. Moving facilities with no loss of production
  4. Shipping 100% of customer critical pre-production units on time over a two year period
  5. 99% on-time shipping performance from the factory I ran.
  6. Establishing a portfolio of key product metrics that would determine future company investment early

In every one of these, I used all or part of the ten steps.


If you would like to know more please contact me


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