What horrors can be hiding in your project?
(how to see everything that’s happening in your project)
Every project manager hopes that their project will proceed without a hitch. Sadly, that’s rarely the case. In fact, 70% of companies reported at least one failed project in a one-year sample, indicating that horrific surprises can easily lurk inside.
There are many reasons why hidden items can be waiting inside your project. The usual culprit is a lack of transparency, although other factors can contribute such as errors in cost estimation, scope creep and undue risks taken.
Let’s take a look at some of the usual suspects when it comes to hidden surprises that can rear their ugly heads, and how you can shine a light in the corners to ensure that they don’t pop up in your next project.
The Hidden Horrors
There is a wide variety of problems that can be lying underneath the surface, waiting to break the water at an inopportune time. But some factors represent repeat offenders in this regard. Here’s a look at the main culprits when it comes to hidden project surprises.
The average cost overrun of all projects is 27%, according to a study by the Harvard Business Review.
It’s not uncommon to encounter hidden costs when going through a project. While most unplanned costs are a result of labor costs due to unforeseen delays, there are other reasons why costs can skyrocket.
Poor planning starts with poor project cost estimation. In their quest to put in a competitive bid, many project managers try to cut projected costs to save money. However, many PMs cut in areas that aren’t sustainable.
For example, cutting out employee redundancy in a project may seem like a good idea – until an unforeseen event happens and extra bodies are suddenly needed. This leads to delays and, ultimately, increased labor costs.
The key to sustainable cost cutting lies with determining which areas of your operations are expendable and trimming it down. So when you’re putting together a project bid, ensure you’ve taken an audit of your capabilities and determined where cuts can be sustained.
The dreaded scope creep rears its ugly head when clear project boundaries aren’t established from the start. And, it can be a project killer.
There are many horror stories surrounding projects that have been sunk by trying to expand outside the original scope. A great example is a when EDS was hired to administer a firearms registry for the government of Canada. During the project, political interference resulted in over 1,000 change orders and costs ballooned from $2 million to $1 billion.
The key to avoiding scope creep is to establish a vision and stick to it. While priorities may shift during the course of the project, it’s vital that the original goals of the project are adhered to.
Any new project will come with inherent risks – it’s part of the game. Yet risk mitigation is a vital step in designing a project, and it begins and ends with good planning.
For example, is your project overly dependent on other parties for completion? How likely are they to meet contracted deliverables on schedule and in good order? What about deliverables from other stakeholders?
Have all risks associated with regulatory compliance been assessed? How about the risk of political interference? There’s a wide variety of areas where unforeseen risks can suddenly arise. And while it’s not possible to predict every one – after all, they wouldn’t be hidden risks if it were – it’s vital that you try to plan for every contingency.
Transparency is key
One major key toward doing away with unpleasant project surprises is to ensure that it’s executed as transparently as possible. You’ll not only be able to ward off some of these horrors, you’ll also find that the project runs more smoothly and efficiently.
Miscommunication is one of the main reasons why hidden items get lodged in the project, and 57% of projects fail because of poor communication between parties, a scary thought indeed.
Ensuring that all parties, from project managers, partners, and stakeholders through to the workers communicate effectively will go a long way to preventing unnecessary hidden items from creeping in.
In addition to good communication, there are several steps you can take to promote transparency in your project.
How to Shine a Light on Hidden Items
Promoting transparency is not just good practice – it’s the lifeblood of the project. Here are some ways you can ensure that there are no hidden items lurking within:
- Advise the stakeholders of the calculated risks associated with the project upfront
- Ensure the project schedule is continually updated
- Identify problems as soon as they arise and make sure they are well documented and an action plan to deal with them has been initiated in a timely manner
- Use collaborative software that allows the project team members access to work in progress so that items don’t become hidden
Hidden horrors don’t have to be a part of your next project. By identifying the likely areas where they occur and promoting transparency in the project’s execution, you’ll be well ahead of the curve when it comes to preventing unwanted surprises.
Software tools such as MySmartPlans are an extremely effective tool for promoting document transparency in construction industry projects. Avoid hidden items while increasing collaboration simply and effectively. Visit MySmartPlans.net to learn more.