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Overcome the Fear of Project Failure: Understanding why Projects Fail

June 12, 2018 | By Sean Pales

In 2013, it was revealed that 50% of businesses had experienced a project failure in the previous twelve months. In 2016, that number increased to 55%. Such alarming stats is enough to unnerve even the veteran project manager, let alone someone starting out on their project management career. So, what can be done to overcome the fear of project failure? The first and most important step is understanding why projects fail in the first place.

In this post, we are going to uncover why projects fail, and how planning and resource management can help you avoid project failure in the future.

A lack of planning is why projects fail

Part of the reason why projects fail is because any project that goes over budget or takes too long to complete is deemed a ‘failure’—even if the project does eventually get completed. And the main reason projects go over budget or take too long is due to a lack of planning.

Another reason why projects fail is not because of a shortage in project managers or technology tools, but problems with how resource are managed.

Both these problems can be remedied by giving due attention to resource management and the proper level of planning. But this planning takes multiple forms:

  • Planning ahead
  • People planning
  • Planning for a worse-case scenario

Let’s look at each of these areas of planning in more detail:

1.   Planning ahead

When managing a project, it’s crucial you intelligently distribute the project resources (i.e. your employees) at your disposal. Without this, projects can quickly get out of control in terms of expense and duration, the leading causes of project failure.

The process of resource planning helps project managers identify all the resources required to complete a project (money, equipment, sites, but most importantly, people).

How to plan ahead

The best way to plan your project resources is through resource management. Resource management concerns the allocation of resources, with planning and modelling features to provide more control and visibility over your people than you could with project management software or spreadsheets.

2.   People planning

Your people are ultimately responsible for how efficiently your projects run. As a project manager, you can help them by knowing exactly who’s working on what, and when. This comes down to resource allocation: planning projects around the right people and vice versa. This can help work run more smoothly, boosting the productivity of your workforce and the efficiency of your projects.

How to plan

Improved visibility over your resources will leave you better placed to balance the allocation of your team. By distributing work evenly across projects—and assigning tasks to the people most equipped for the job—you mitigate the risk of under or overutilization of staff. Resource management software can create a visual representation of resource allocation, providing hot/cool maps to make it much easier to spot staff that might be over or under-worked, so you can solve the problem quicker.

3.   Planning for a worse-case scenario

Projects can go wrong at the most inopportune moments. Resources can become scarce (if workers are sick or must go on leave) and project deadlines can be tightened due to budget restrictions or stakeholders changing their direction or the expected outcome. No matter how much prior planning you put in place, there’s always a chance that things will change. So, the best thing you can do is be as prepared as possible for whatever may be ‘around the corner’.

How to plan

Resource management software can help project and resource managers expect the unexpected, using ‘What-if’ scenario planning to test hypothetical scenarios so you don’t have to commit the time, money and resources up front. So, you can see the effects of hiring more contractors or extending project deadline in real-time, helping you make more informed decisions.

Overcome project failure with resource management

Tempus Resource is a sophisticated resource management tool that offers real-time visibility over your projects and people, so you can plan for whatever comes your way.

  • Heatmaps and Coolmaps: offer a visual representation of your over- and under-allocated resources.
  • Modelling & Forecasting: features let project managers explore and examine their data to make changes and spot potential problems ahead of time.
  • ‘What-If’ Analysis: ask questions of your data and projects, test ideas and discover alternative resource allocations to see how changes will impact your costs.

For more information on how resource management can transform your projects, get in touch with us today.

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