Writing on PM Karma, Jason Westland lists the 5 Goals of a project manager. Jason gets the goals right, but I have to expand on goal 4 because this is a particular pet peeve of mine:
Goal 4: To keep customers happy
You could finish your project on time, under budget and have met 100% of the requirements—but still have unhappy customers. This is usually because their expectations have changed since the project started and have not been properly managed.
I have seen a number of projects managed to completion, on time, under budget, achieving all requirements (past and current), with satisfied (even ecstatic) customers, and the project manager (and PMO) happily declare success (complete with celebration dinners), yet the project was a complete and utter waste of the organization’s money. And any project that is a waste of time and resources must be, by definition, a business failure.
This happens for far more reasons than just failing to manage stakeholder expectations. For instance:
- The software ends up as shelfware because training was not planned for nor executed and there is no user adoption.
- Programmers rush to make the (often arbitrary) deadline and the resulting product consumes an unreasonable amount of resources from the Help Desk, the maintenance programming staff, and the user base. This should be identified as a failed project, but rarely is.
- I saw one project (OK, I admit it — I led the project) in which corporate management (up to the CEO) insisted that the product be created and rolled out (globally), insisting that they could “force” users to use it. They tried and failed. The result was an elegant, well written system ended up as shelfware.
There are many reasons that projects fail, but all too often projects that are viewed as successes in the traditional sense are counter productive and a waste of time and resources.
Remember to focus on meeting the business need, not what is asked for. And to avoid focusing on delivery, but to ensure the success of the product after delivery.
Anything less is sub-par project management.