Project Management: Failing to Plan or Planning to Fail?

May 4, 2017 12:08:12 PM | By Greg Abbiss

Benjamin Franklin said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” and later Winston Churchill modified that, rather famously, to “Failing to plan is planning to fail”.

But this infers, that if you plan to succeed you won’t fail.  Which is very apparent in project management, the “art” of planning, to be abundantly incorrect!!

According to the Innotas, Project and Portfolio report published in 2015, more than 61% of businesses had a “mature” project management office and yet over 50% had experience total project failures during that same year.

project-management-40120-resized.jpgAt about the same time, Teamgantt, an online project management resource, quotes a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey that found, out of 10,640 project from 200 companies, across the world only 2.5% were 100% successful.

The average cost overrun in the same article was quoted as 27%. More alarming was that the bigger the project the more likely it was to fail!

Clearly being able to plan is a good thing but being able to execute, monitor, compensate and mitigate on your plan is much more important to your overall success.

Project management is often times thought of as a process of creating a plan where resource availability and cost aligns with the expectations of delivery of the project.

My challenge to you on this is, if this is correct and project management is merely a matter of planning, then why don’t we call it project co-ordination?

If you want your plan to be successful, plan it, monitor it and manage it.    

Blog post project management (5).pngThe last two need better tools and better people respectively. Place value in quality project management, don’t fall into the trap of hiring project co-ordinators and expecting better results.

I’ll leave you with this thought; my new car has collision detection built in.  It doesn’t do anything other than raise the alarm that there is about to be a collision.  It doesn’t intervene with the brakes or steering it just raises an alarm.  The similarity between this and most project management I see is only broken in that the car’s collision detection at least warns BEFORE the accident.

Invest, as we have, in processes, tools and systems for managing projects. But far more importantly, as we have, invest in the people who will actually execute, monitor, mitigate, compensate and deliver your project, without the need for bells and whistles. 

To find out what we can offer, take a look at our Project Services

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Greg Abbiss


Greg Abbiss

Greg has had a successful 25-plus years in his IT career, spanning many different countries and major companies. During this time he has gained an excellent understanding of software development, software teams, successful leveraging and implementation of software to generate successful companies, and the associated systems and processes that are required to control this complex environment to get the results wanted.


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