Project managers have a difficult job, and it is made harder by the fact that most projects fail. They may fail to accomplish the desired objective or have outcomes that simply aren’t good enough. Others go over budget or take too long, and they are thus considered a failure. Let’s look at the hard data on project failures before we discuss potential solutions.
The Hard Data on Project Failure Rates
One industry study found that 70 percent of projects fail for some reason. More importantly, the odds of failure increase exponentially with the complexity of the project. For example, projects over a million dollars have a fifty percent higher failure rate than projects with a budget of less than a third of a million dollars.
Furthermore, some projects are so important they threaten the survival of the organization. For example, almost fifth of IT project failures threaten the company’s survival, whether it cuts off access to data required for operations or leaves security holes malicious parties could exploit.
What’s the solution? One option is adopting the right project management software. But how can project management software help your team succeed?
It Keeps You on Schedule
Project management software allows managers to set a schedule. More importantly, they can estimate the time required to complete all requisite tasks and determine the optimal timeline. You might learn that your original schedule isn’t possible unless you have additional people, or you may need to adjust the schedule once you have the data.
A side benefit of extended use of project management software is that you can use actual historical data to estimate how long various tasks will take instead of using rough estimates. You can also determine who has a history of completing that type of work faster and assign the tasks to them.
It Improves Communication
Project management software may give every member of the team insight into the state of the project. What critical path items are behind? What tasks are due today? Managers can simply pull up a report and see what the status of everything is and follow up on those who aren’t keeping up.
Furthermore, this built-in reporting often frees up managers to work on roadblocks, and it gives them the information they need to reassign someone whose task is ahead of schedule to help those who are behind. You don’t have to wait for a weekly status meeting to find out that someone is struggling.
Use the Information to Strategically Outsource Work
Breaking up a large project into detailed tasks via a work breakdown structure doesn’t just give you the ability to carefully plan labor hours and financial expenditures. This information can be used to determine the type of work to be done, who it can be done by and the duration of the work.
You can use this information to outsource specific tasks to third parties. For example, you could outsource software migrations and server updates to a dedicated software team while leaving user account setups and ongoing tech support to your in-house staff. Or you could hire IT contractors to create an app while your staff handles IT security patches and customer service.
When you have a list of tasks along with time frame and labor requirements, you can give it to a contractor as a to-do list and get a quote for the scope of work. If the quote is similar to what you’d pay someone in-house or they can do a better job, you can’t afford not to bring in outside help.
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