APM’s latest research suggests only 22% of projects are wholly successful – so let’s get the basics right!
There are many contributing factors which determine project success, but in large programmes an easily followed, robustly integrated and reportable plan is a must.
In complex programmes, the constituent projects can often become disconnected, losing that vital interface which allows programme leadership to allocate resources efficiently and pro-actively manage the true critical path.
Often, although we set up governance and reporting structures based on an integrated model, we are surprised to find planning happening in silos as we enter project execution.
Why does this happen?
Well, as workload mounts, deadlines approach and individual project teams start to take the strain, planning can take a back seat and tunnel vision can start to emerge – as long as we hit OUR project’s deliverables it will all work out!
We recognise the temptation, particularly in high pressured IT projects, for this kind of deliverables focus to increase whilst the focus on user experience starts to diminish.
This is where good planning can provide the stitching that holds project deliverables together with good change management to provide well co-ordinated, structured change.
Structured change can only happen when the programme continues to function as one unit and keeps the focus on integrated benefits and user experience.
The change hitting the operational front line has to remain co-ordinated, consistent and on message, if it’s going to stick.
But what’s this mean practically?
This means laying the groundwork early, through integrated project planning, to hold lines of communications open during the heat of project execution.
Structured change starts with having clear sight of the programme wide critical path and resource availability by tracking dependencies between projects and forming an aggregated view of your deliverables.
Completing this work upfront will provide the project infrastructure to allow blockages or slippage in one project area to be identified across the programme enabling corrective action to be taken, which protects benefits and best utilises programme wide resource.
Three steps towards integration:
- Define the programme structure (from project deliverables up to programme outcomes)
- Identify and define cross-project interfaces early
- Create an integrated programme schedule before execution