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What are the Causes of Unsuccessful Project Execution?

Years ago, I was asked by my boss (the CEO) to help determine why our largest division was having difficulties executing on DoD (Department of Defense) contracts. We had grown from implementing mostly internal product development projects to performing a larger percentage of contractual projects and struggled with meeting our commitments. In so doing, I decided to create a Survey Questionnaire to administer to the various PMs for their own assessments, then compiled the results and performed an evaluation of the results – this way it was not “my” data, but my evaluation of the data I received. To do this, I thought it would be prudent to try determining all the potential causes of unsuccessful Project execution I could think of to facilitate development of the survey. Then I created the survey, administered it to collect data on seven prior complex contractual projects. I followed it up with my assessment, and ultimately the entire organization settled on several key Systemic Corrective Actions to foster improvement. Our contractual project performance improved dramatically as a result. I’ve used this same assessment instrument for other organizations and received similar end results.

This fishbone diagram (or one very similar to it) provided the framework. It identifies the various potential Causes of Unsuccessful Project Execution. If you haven’t read either of my books or attended any of my training sessions or classes on “Strategic Project Management”, you probably have not seen this graphic. The top and bottom halves were intentionally grouped. Those on the top are influenced more by the PM and Team, while those on the bottom are influenced more by organizational factors. Organizational factors? Yes, project performance is not just dependent on the PM and Team – the organization, its governance guidelines, resource allocation plans, etc. matter as well.  If you would like to try this efficient and effective method out, please go to RTConfidence.com and request a 100Q survey assessment.

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