Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Project management truisms

It seems as if the on-line community has decided to publish collections of statement, sayings and jokes about project management over the past week. Many of you will have read my collection of rules of project management, but Tony Collins of Computer Weekly has published a list (which you can read in full here) – several of which I absolutely concur with:

Projects with realistic budgets and timetables don't get approved – and the best example here has to be NPfIT, although I’m sure every organisation has a number of projects that fall into this category.

The more desperate the situation the more optimistic the progress report – and in my own experience “the heavier the progress reports get”

A freeze on change melts whenever heat is applied – which is where the hairy-arsed project manager, who enforces his moratorium on change forcefully, comes into his own (but typically also alienates himself from senior management and future work with the same organisation)

If at first you don't succeed, rename the project – I always admired a competing company to Radius, whose director insisted that project names included the scheduled completion date (e.g. NPfIT December 2008) – although I still didn’t see their projects being delivered on time

Everyone wants a strong project manager - until they get him – again an absolute truism – my best project manager was PeterB – someone who spoke his mind and was difficult to keep under control – but his projects were (nearly) always successful and on schedule - his customers knew their responsibilities and he managed them as forcefully as our own staff, to achieve successful outcomes.

Projects don't fail in the end; they fail at conception – as regular readers of this blog and web-site will know, in my consultancy work to turn around problem projects, almost everyone has gone wrong before the original contract was signed – NpfIT being one of the most notable examples.

Finally, if you want some of these truisms illustrated in cartoons, click

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