Published: 29th June 2006
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By Samuel Lartey, Project Manager

The topic on everyone's lips these days is why are the right things not being done? Why are the projects that will best use our available resources given our goals and resources not being implemented? Several individuals, managers, institutions and organisations have questioned the manner in which projects are managed and why most projects fail.

There are several misgivings about project management and the approach and methodologies applied by these project managers. In all sectors of an economy whether public or private, resources are invested into projects management; high budgets are put in place, organisational human and material resources are invested into managing projects, business and institutional time are redirected yet these projects do not deliver the much expected returns on investment, economic value, sales growth, customer satisfaction and retention, market share, and employee satisfaction that is required. This phenomenon is becoming alarming and therefore calls for consenting efforts to make good the situation.

Project management has traditionally been the basic unit of work for many engineering organisations, design, and construction firms. In recent times however, other organisations such as the service, consulting, utilities and manufacturing industries are using projects more and more as a way to tackle problems, make improvements, or bring new products and services to the market more quickly and efficiently. The most impressive aspect of this type of management is the fact that it involves working in teams with colleagues from disciplines, departments, and even other institutions and third party agencies. It gives the project the advantage of working with a variety of technical, professional and operational minds and teams.

With all these background, I find it rather difficult to understand why projects fail. The first thing that comes to mind when I hear of a project failure is did the initiators, project managers and the business or institution plan to fail, did they foresee failure and refused to manage it or they simply failed to plan. Another area that interests me most is, is it the big man factor-show of power? Is it some 'powers that be' and autocrats, or some selfish individual somewhere deciding to turn the implementation plan over the bar? Or there is simply no will power to manage the project process?

I am as much as possible aware that some projects fail through genuine reasons and factors. A case in point is where a motivation or reason for effecting a change in an organisation - structure, staffing, style of an organisation or strategy- is affected by a sudden change in the leadership, and strategy, or a change in an organisations appetite to counter or react to a competitor.

In any case there are genuine factors that must be considered before implementing any project. When these factors are not effectively managed the outcome would be failures in projects- as we hear of. This paper is set up to look into some simple but important processes and phases that any successful project must go through. These processes are so important to the success of the project. Each phase must be considered fully and integrated before the other phase is ushered in.

The processes are just simple and there are five of them. In a later write up each of these five processes would be considered in detailed. It would however be mentioned that in practice these processes may overlap and interact in ways that when well managed would result in successful project delivery. What must guide the project manager are the objectives that the project is set up to achieve, the complexities of achieving this objectives, the risks, time frame, access to project resources, historical information and the organisations project maturity levels.

But for the purposes of this introductory write up on initiating a project the factors and considerations that will facilitate the formal authorisation to start the new project will be described. The stage defines all the activities that will authorise the project.

To handle this process the project initiators-who may be external to the project's scope of control- the project management team, the manager or the project implementer must answer the following questions in the affirmative at this phase.

Have I put in place a well documented business motivation, case or justification for the project?

What authority are you using to run and manage the project?

Who signed for the project?

Do I have a definite scope or project boundaries to deliver within?

Hoe would the project benefit the business?

What are the key deliverables of the project?

What is the duration of the project?

What are the critical risk factors?

Which groups of people are going to benefit and which group will suffer?

Have I considered all these groups? Do I have their consent?

Where do I get the entire high level resource requirement for the project? Or do I have a forecast of the resources for the organisations investment analysis?

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