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11/08/2009

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Dimitri

Sir, I am based in the Czech republic, and work on change management. We do not find it very easy to cut costs, the culture is not helpful, seniors just keep saying how there part of the business is important.

Do you have some kind of methodology or approach to cutting costs in a non partisan way? where will we find this thinking?

Thank you for your help.

Dimitri

Cerri M

BruceH, I am not sure it is safe to say physchologically that all people are motivated by money, some are, some are not.

In no particular order, here are the things we find common place in failed/failing ptojects:

(1) unclear objectives
(2) the board are not interested, as measured by how many times they even look at the project, or it is in reality a "pet" project of a senior person
(3) inadequate resource. Not just money but people, skills, time, capability
(4) the wrong culture for success which manifests itself as the culture of the project is out of line with the rest of the organisation. If the project is there to shift the culture it needs 100% visibile backing from the CEO
(5) no focus on the benefits. If no one is focussed on the benefits, the project drifts, gains scope and invariably doesn't deliver what they set out to achieve
(6) poor RFP, specifications, tender process. Often the "experts" go out with a solution (including products in mind) and then try and get the supplier to force fit the solution
(7) too much churn at the senior level in the business/ project so no one really owns it. Not enough churn at the other end so people dont keep restating the objectives
(8) a lack of teamwork, openesss and trust between the supplier and project team members. Not a unified team
(9) an over reliance on Prince 2, MSP, ITIL and implemented in a mechanical way. We often start with just taking out the methodology
(10) There's someone else who always knows best. They continue to snipe from the side, run the project down, get in the way. We look to get them fired.

CerriM
Ps I think we are straying off the point though

BruceH

@CerriM: My point is that if my suggestion is adopted then everything necessary that needed to be done to make the project a success would be done, because there is a very strong incentive to do so. "Everything necessary" includes all of the items in the bullet points as well as everything in ITIL and an experienced PM's bag of tricks.

A prescriptive list of things that a project must do is, in my opinion, simply to repeat a mistake that has been made time and again since the project that followed the first ever failure. Of course, there is always a chance that doing so might save a project, just as there is always a chance that a project may still fail under my approach. However I think the odds are much more in my favour.

The accusation that it is simply a bonus to do our jobs properly is a valid one to which I have two responses. The first is that the bonus approach is one that plays to human psychology. I feeel that ignoring the fundamentals of human psychology is just as basic a mistake to make as ignoring the principles of good software engineering and project management. The second is simply that if my approach is shown to succeed then tenderers simply need to change their contracts to include a lower fixed price element and a larger bonus element. (Although, in practice, the laws of supply and demand won't suddenly change and the net price will always be strongly affected by other factors.)

Finally, a question to you as a specialist in project recovery. How often, would you say, are bad projects the result of flaws already present at the bid stage? Anecdotally, I would say a simple majority, i.e. more than 50%, but my experience might be exceptional (either way).

Cerri Morgan

BruceH, I work in a top 5 consultancy firm, specialising in project recovery and IT assessment. I would have thought those three bullet points are the minimum you must do. We find when this is missing it tends to be the prime cause of failure.

You seem to have gone straight to 'pay us a bonus' just to do your job. You must work in finance.

CerriM

BruceH

I was going to post a long critique but then decided those last three bullet points are irrelevant because they address the symptoms and not the problem.

The simplest way to ensure a project delivers to everyone's satisfaction is to include a pot of bonus money, to be shared by all staff - both client and contractor - upon successful delivery. Cost overruns come out of the bonus. No bonus left then can the project and retreat to the law courts.

You'd be amazed at how many projects would be declared successes - and not all of them would be barefaced lies either. (Which is the important bit.)

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