Big intimidating methodologies

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Regrettably, our most widely used methods for managing projects are specifically designed for large projects. The main culprits are PRINCE2 (Projects IN Confined Environments) and PMBOK (PM Book of Knowledge) Guide that are both much too unwieldy and frightening for smallish projects and for use by us ordinary mortals, and despite their authors’ claims, these methodologies strenuously defy tailoring to match smallish project needs. The PMBOK Guide is an encyclopedic source of knowledge with 47 processes, and PRINCE2 is a huge descriptive methodology and is certainly not user-friendly, even in its “PRINCE2 for Dummies” version.  The PRINCE2 methodology is so top-heavy that it generates its own gravitational field, which together with the corporate immune system can kill innovation and neutralise anything that differs from the status quo. Britain has invented some great stuff, such as rugby and television, but PRINCE2 is … Read More »

In praise of smallish projects

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In addition to the significant investment at stake, PMs most certainly put their reputations on the line when they take on a large project. Mismanaged large projects routinely cost the jobs of many PMs, and have even sunk whole organisations. Large projects are generally risky.  The most recent Standish Group  (an independent international research organisation) report indicates that smaller projects have a very much higher success rate (76%) than larger projects (10%):

The Standish Group describe “successful” projects as those delivered on time, on budget, and with required features and functionality, whereas “failed” projects are those cancelled prior to completion or their products were never used, and “challenged” means late, over spent and/or with less than the required features and functions. The Standish Group tell us that smallish projects are much more successful due to a combination of these factors:

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Project versus PM success

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When we think of success, there is a difference between PM success and project success. The former is about meeting deadlines, sticking to a schedule, staying under budget and providing outputs (also called deliverables or products and services) that are built and perform to specifications. This requires PM expertise. On the other hand, project success is about achieving outcomes and measurable benefits created by the outputs during their operational life. Thus benefits usually arise after the project proper is closed and sometimes a considerable time later. The ideal result is both project success and PM success.

An often-mentioned and most successful project is the Sydney Opera House.  With its graceful sails dominating Sydney Harbour it’s one of the most recognisable buildings in the world and was clearly a most successful project. It’s an icon with World Heritage recognition, … Read More »


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