If a project starts to lag behind or if it is already significantly delayed and
has time or expense budget overruns, management not seldom asks a project
management consultancy to carry out a project review. Here we provide for a
checklist of the items to check. Missing checkmarks reveal the reasons why the
project is on the path to fail and indicate what needs to be done to fix it.
There are basically two sets of reasons why projects are doomed to fail. The
project was not setup adequately in its context with the company: too many
unclarities, company politics, unrealistic expectation or simply too little
support. Companies that are less experienced or
little mature with setting up projects may
already have a problem here.
Some of the deficiencies can be fixed by a strong and experienced project
manager. (S)he pushes ahead and achieves the necessary fixes in the context by
help of the status report or by his/her communication skills.
However, a weak or unexperienced project manager will not yield such
improvements. On the contrary, weak or unexperienced project manager start
managing and assigning people instead of putting the structural pre-requisites
in place: status reporting, definitions and methodologies, principles,
procedures and infrastructure. Or in other words: if you find a project with no
high quality status reporting and progress tracking, you already can make
conclusions on the project manager’s experience and ability.
These are the most needed items that a project requires from its context:
A unique result owner and a specified project sponsor who “pays for” or
“represents the payments of” the resources.
Project is seen as a realistic source of a specified value which compares to
the costs the project takes.
The project does not generate conflicts of interest or objectives. If this is
unavoidable the conflicts are managed in the context but outside of the
project by the project sponsor. There is also absence of pressure from company
politics or from wrong management promises.
Clear and communicated responsibilities, priorities, responsibilities and
A governance structure - e.g. in the form of a Project Steering Committee,
which has the task of eliminating external project hurdles and defining
SMART objectives and realistic timelines based on reasonable estimates and
- The project relies on internal knowledge and not too much on external
- The project has an reasonable time and expense budget also for unforeseen
Project Management and Control
These are the most important structural items that a project need to have in
place in order to work systemically successful:
Bi-weekly issue & progress tracking on the basis of a proven concept project
control status report.
List of ALL involved people in and around the project.
Clear »finished« and quality agreements and a rigorous quality control for
Fast decisions making with little time delay and an amount of bureaucracy that
is as low as possible.
Project manager with experience in project management and knowledge of the
Reduction of complexity and size through extensive modularization of the
project into manageable teams with a minimization of interdependencies.
A defined project methodology and specified procedure.
Clearly assigned project team members that are dedicated to the project and
not split between various functions.
Project members that are motivated and have a sustainable workload.
Proper modern and distributed project management and control software that
prevent the re-invention of the wheel.
Individual responsibilities for deliveries and services at all hierarchical
Adequate communication software that facilitates easy and efficient
A documentation and handover repository, that carries the project results that
are handed over to the result owner.