What Went Wrong?
Three reasons project management fails in tech-driven companies.
By Derrick A. Richardson, PMP
while there should be a healthy tension between
project management and functions such as marketing, engineering, finance and operations, project
managers need the right amount of organizational
visibility, influence and authority in decision-making. Good project managers attain this when they
have the full support and commitment of senior
2. Poor scope management
Two of the most insidious problems that can rap-
idly cripple technology-driven projects are poorly
defined scope before
launch and ineffective
scope management dur-
ing execution. Often, tech
companies believe time is
wasted if tasks related to
execution do not occur
immediately after the
project is green-lighted.
All too often, engineering
teams spring into action
headfirst, confusing activity with progress. Even
companies that engage in
disciplined project management routinely give
short shrift to scope definition and management.
A good project manager
1. Lack of support
will properly initiate any
project by understanding the bigger business pic-
ture and the technical challenges and issues. He or
she will also take the time to identify and quantify
technical, operational and commercial project risks
and incorporate risk management into planning.
Scope problems are even tougher to manage
Organizations that develop com- plex technologies face unique challenges that project manage- ment can help solve. Smaller tech companies, including
startups, are beginning to make use of project
management, while bigger technology-centric
organizations are creating formal, fully staffed
project management offices (PMOs). However, I
have seen that some of these technology compa-
nies’ investments into project management and
PMOs do not deliver the intended value. I believe
there are three primary
reasons for this failure.
Even after an organization
forms a PMO, leadership
can still struggle to see the
value in project management. Despite tremendous
advances in the field,
often perceive project
management as administrative fluff.
Other times, tech companies fall into the trap of
believing that the technology itself is so great that it
will overcome challenges like the schedule, compliance, cost and performance. This attitude often
results in derailed projects, frustrated employees
and chronic problems with organizational growth.
While one of the duties of a good project manager is to influence skeptical stakeholders, no
amount of project management skill will overcome
senior management’s indifference. Moreover,
Getting It Done PROJECT MANAGEMENT IN ACTION
the trap of
itself is so
great that it
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