Still the same problems with projects

Roger OakdenGlobal Logistics

Repeating the same mistakes.

This week the Australian government announced a review of the current warship building project – budgeted at $A8billion, with half of the money spent and no ships delivered! While major projects can spend a lot of money up-front with little to show physically for the effort, this project could be a headline grabbing failure.

But how well are your projects proceeding? With supply chains gaining visibility among senior management, it is increasingly the responsibility of logisticians to deliver projects that drive improvements. These projects can address such challenges as implementing application software, re-locating, building or re-organising warehouses and up-skilling staff through formal training programs. A large project could incorporate all these requirements!

The challenge for the project leader is they only have one chance to implement the project ‘on-time and on-budget’; yet how many logisticians have completed a formal course or qualification in project management? Flying blind leads to project failure; since the 1980’s, studies have identified the main themes of project failures as:

  • Wrong project leader – Inappropriate project team – Inadequate training
  • Poor communications – Lack of stakeholder consultation
  • Unclear objectives – Inadequate definition – Scope not fully defined
  • Poor planning – Unrealistic timescales – Ineffective controls

Have you experienced some or all of these eleven factors when a project was not successful?

Success when managing a project

An additional factor that that can severely test the success of a project is ‘scope creep’. This is where management require multiple small changes to the scope of the project, but do not provide more money, time or resources, because each change is considered as ‘small’!

Scope creep is one of the signs of having the wrong project leader. Two attributes of a project leader are first, the ability to sell the project scope and plan to management and other stakeholders; the second is to resist management’s desire for unfunded changes to the project. These two opposing capabilities make it difficult to select good project leaders, so before you are selected, ensure you are up to the challenge.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) and Association of Project Management (APM) have learning materials that provide general information concerning management of projects, which show there is more to managing projects than drawing Gantt charts; also, there are certification programs available that will improve your confidence to ensure a successful project.

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About the Author

Roger Oakden

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With my background as a practitioner, consultant and educator, I am uniquely qualified to provide practical learning in supply chains and logistics. I have co-authored a book on these subjects, published by McGraw-Hill. As the program Manager at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, I developed and presented the largest supply chain post-graduate program in the Asia Pacific region, with centres in Melbourne, Singapore and Hong Kong. Read More...