Organisational issues that get in the way of effective project delivery

I was doing some diary planning with our company’s Administration Manager, Alison Smith. We cantered through November and December and suddenly we were into 2010; where did the year go?

Finishing diary planning I started to reflect on the year so far. After a few quiet moments one aspect that came through was the obstacles companies put in the way of successful delivery of projects. They may not realise it but they are obstacles. I started to make a list:

  1. There is no project management system to speak of and people can ‘do their own thing’…and no one does
  2. Having overly-complex decision making processes which slows down delivery of  projects
  3. Large project boards – one I came across had a startlingly large 25 people on it
  4. Ill-trained or no training at all for project sponsors and project board members
  5. No ownership of project management by either a senior manger or a function in the business leading to lack of buy in for project management generally
  6. Several risk management processes within the business leaving the project manager to choose which one should be used
  7. Project managers having no authority, needing to defer everything upwards – slowing down decision making (see point 1)
  8. Training those who are not engaged in project work, while those who are cannot get on to a training course
  9. Senior managers who fire off delivery dates and budgets, without any thought as to whether the project can be delivered or is part of the overall agenda. Nor do they give any thought to resources and budgets required

This list is too long and the implications for project delivery serious. Have you any suggestions to add?

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12 Responses to Organisational issues that get in the way of effective project delivery

  1. craig brown says:

    Hi Ron

    How about no ability to gauge the scale of risks. (Everything urgent is addressed while important things are left undone.)

  2. Ron says:

    Excellent point Craig….everything is urgent and I want it yesteday (if not before)


  3. Mike Clayton says:

    Ron – love the list. I would add one of my favourites: the organisation taking on too many projects. You and I both work with UK public sector clients and we see this all too often. Surprising then that NAO does not include it in their list of eight common reasons for failure of Government projects. I feel a blog of my own coming on …

  4. Ron says:

    Mike, like Craig an excellent point. Too many projects is not restricted to the public sector though I fear it is more prevalent. I am sure many readers will say; hey, our priority list is simply too long bearing in mind our resources…


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  7. That is where good planning comes in, you should always leave a little block after major tasks to allow for unexpected occurrences and give yourself room to compensate.

  8. Chris Warren says:

    Echoing the good planning point raised by Leon (and point 9 for that matter) but the lack of appetite for a lengthy definition period by senior management who insist on seeing almost instantious development. A huge number of projects I have worked on could have been delivered months (and in one case years!) earlier if a suitable definition period had been allowed up front.

  9. Ron says:

    Thanks Leon however we should all be aware of what I call ‘just in case time’…let’s add a few more days ….just in case! We should also be ensuring that our risk processes are effective and if they are can do away with just in case time. This does not do away through with having a contingency plan (plan B)

    Chris – my worry is your worry! Instantaneous results needed here! We have all seen it and one aspect I feel we need to get smarter at is managing expectations, alongside training senior managers in project management!

    Thanks for both your contributions.


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