Good Projects versus Bad Projects?

A passionate spiel from The Process Ninja entitled, “Lessons from a Process Project Failure“, hit home with me as I was reading it today. Craig has reflected many situations that I have also experienced with projects, especially the paradox when a project is celebrated as a success when the end result has been less than ideal.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it is important to celebrate the achievements of the organisation; however the issue is that the lessons are not learnt and the failings of the project are destined to be repeated.

The most disappointing project failures I have seen have been where the initial benefits sought included a strategic vision that the new process would be delivered to increase customer value and maximise enterprise value – by the end of the project both of these ideals have been de-scoped and the organisation is often left with another process implemented in isolation, committing the organisation to a maintenance and integration burden and not adding any real value to the customer. Innovation has most likely been lost to “just making it work”.

I often start a project with big picture thinking; “What is the best way this process can be done for the organisation, the customer and our part of the business”, how do you think I go? Generally I don’t get very far, it’s a great idea to be strategic; however the project owner has already scoped and budgeted the project – there is rarely enough money or brain power to do it right. “That’s OK, we’ll pick the rest up the next time around”; but we never do.

The worst part is that the people who are really passionate about Business Processes end up delving down into the analysis or the system and are never heard from again, paradise lost.

There are a number of solutions to this problem, including integrating portfolios, projects and process management. The solution I will be looking at involves adopting Process Thinking across the organisation… If a project is hard, how can we achieve such a deep change in thinking?

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4 Responses to Good Projects versus Bad Projects?

  1. TPN says:

    Craig – you touch upon another interesting issue here – that of the ineffectiveness of the project as a concept. I’d like to declare that the days of the project are over. Projects merely put blinkers around improvement. Now before people rush to scream “scope creep!!!” to that I merely reply that the process centric, customer focussed organisation that continually improves its customer alignment does not need projects to achieve this. If process becomes embedded in the organisation’s DNA then projects become another unnecessary bureaucratic non-value add. Cheers, TPN.

  2. Thanks for the comments Craig, I both agree and disagree with you.

    I agree that a project is not reuqired to improve a process, the Process of Continous Improvement is not unique and should be done in many iterations. I am not a fan of circular BPM models as they indicate that you need to iterate through the Process Design and Implementation phases, when these should only be done once!

    I prefer a model that goes through a Process Strategy, Design and Implementation phases but then completes with an on-going Operate and Continually Improve idea. A process project is still required to get to the final stage; however it is then up to the business to carry it forward.


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