According to industry reports, the most significant contributing factors to project failure could be traced directly to poor requirements understanding and definition. In a recent Sequent Computer Systems Inc. study of about 500 IT managers the most frequently named cause of project failure was poorly defined and changing requirements. A summary of other studies on the dominant reasons that projects fail indicates that the three most common failure points in developing, enhancing or changing business systems today are:
- Incomplete and/or incorrect business requirements and technical specifications
- Incomplete or ineffective testing (often due to poor requirements)
- Improperly managed projects (Either incompetent project management, or incomplete and incorrect requirements)
In a typical project, the manager will be assigned to leading the project and take full accountability for reaching the goals and objectives. The project manager is the leader of the project and is responsible for ensuring that the following tasks are completed in a timely manner:
- Gaining approval for the project purpose and terms of reference
- Assembling, governing and motivating the team, in cooperation with team leaders and supervisors
- Ensuring the project is feasible through managing the development of a feasibility study
- Planning the project in detail
- Allocating and monitoring the resources (people, money, time, technology etc.)
- Tracking the project and reporting on the progress to the senior stakeholders (sponsor, customer)
- Making strategic decisions and solving issues
- Controlling the achievement of the goals and objectives
- Reviewing and terminating the project
Depending on the features, type, size, and nature of a given project, a broad set of skills and abilities and a deal of knowledge and experience are required for a project manager to manage the project successfully. It is convenient to arrange all the required skills and abilities into the following 3 groups:
- Individual Skills. These skills allow a project manager to be as effective as possible when planning and managing work around and within projects. They include good persuasive and self-motivation skills, good skills in oral and written presentation, good analytical skills, decision making, goal setting, high energy, credibility, time management.
- Team Skills. This set of skills provides managers with the ability to assemble, lead, manage and motivate teams and groups of people involved in projects. These skills include communication, group decision making, problem and conflict management, team collaboration, time management, reporting, others.
- Technical Skills. Finally, these skills determine how well a manager can operate equipment and devices as well as use various techniques and methods to drive the project. They include technical knowledge and education, experience in using specific tools and devices, planning complex tasks, managing creative thinking, financial planning, monitoring, contract management, negotiation, others.
A Project Leader is a senior person who is charged with the responsibility of managing the project through leading and coordinating the implementation process. The project leader is likely to be an executive or director who has sufficient authorities and rights to make strategic and tactical decisions on project management. An individual assigned to the project leader role is ultimately responsible for:
- The overall delivery of the project as well as delivery of every phase and stage across the project life-cycle.
- Providing support to and championing the project
- Coordinating the line management of the project manager
- Attending reviewer meetings for reviewing how the project proceeds
- Ensuring that the project is being performed according to the agreed plan
- Ensuring that the personnel committed to the project give sufficient time and effort to the project
A Project Reviewer is a person or a group of people appointed towards the end of the project planning phase to give assurance to the senior management that the case for proceeding with the project has been properly developed and budgeted to enable successful delivery and acceptance of project products.
The Project Reviewer is supposed to be not affected by or interested in the project. It is just an independent consultant or expert who provide advice on how to proceed with the project in a better way. The role of an independent project reviewer covers the following duties:
- Taking a broad and independent view of project progress
- Receiving necessary information from the project manager prior to the end of each review (milestone) meeting
- Analyzing project data to decide whether sufficient evidence has been presented by the project manager and whether the project can move on to the next phase of the project management plan
- Ensuring that all goals and tasks underpinning the current milestone have been completed
- Revising agreed milestones if needed
- Provide expert judgment regarding resource availability and utilization
- It is essential that the project reviewer should not undertake the sponsoring (championing) duties but remain independent on and uninterested in the project. Furthermore, the role should cover areas involved in either direction management or implementation of the project.