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Avoiding the Successful Failure!

"Thinking is very hard work and management fashions are a wonderful substitute for thinking."
Peter Drucker

Keywords: project management, stakeholder management, culture.

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Avoiding the Successful Failure! [P046]

Can a project be ‘on time’, ‘on budget’ and a failure despite delivering 100% of its scope? The short answer is yes! (the Millennium Dome in London). But it is also possible for a project to be over budget, over time, missing scope and an iconic success (the Sydney Opera House).

This paper will demonstrate that delivering value (time, cost and scope) is only one aspect of success. The other two elements are managing stakeholder perceptions, founded on robust and effective relationships; and managing the project’s risk profile to avoid alienating key stakeholders by exceeding their risk tolerance threshold.

The foundation of modern project management is the ‘iron triangle’ of time, cost and outputs. The project manager’s traditional role has been to balance these elements to deliver the specified output (scope and quality), ‘on time’ and ‘on budget’. But often this is not enough.

A successful project is perceived by its stakeholders as successful; and perceptions are a hidden and variable state of mind. To be recognised as successful, the project team needs to engage with their key stakeholders and, understand their wants, needs and expectations. If the project is not meeting these requirements something needs to change.

The change could be in the perceptions of the stakeholders, achieved by effective communications, or by changing the project so it delivers an output that is relevant and needed. The ‘right’ output meets the needs of the project’s stakeholders, as they understand them, and is delivered in a way that stays within their acceptable levels of risk.

This paper will demonstrate the three elements of project success based on some well known examples and then identify the tools and techniques needed to equip project teams to succeed in all three dimensions.

Author: Dr. Lynda Bourne.

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