Strategic Planning

Critical success factors for strategic planning for project management include those activities that must be performed if the organization is to achieve its long-term objectives. Most businesses have only a handful of critical success factors. However, if even one of them is not executed successfully, the business's competitive position may be threatened.

The critical success factors in achieving project management excellence apply equally to all types of organizations, even those that have not fully implemented their project management systems. Though most organizations are sincere in their efforts to fully implement their systems, stumbling blocks are inevitable and must be overcome. Here's a list of common complaints from project teams:

• There's scope creep in every project and no way to avoid it.

• Completion dates are set before project scope and requirements have been agreed upon.

• Detailed project plans identifying all of the project's activities, tasks, and subtasks are not available.

• Projects emphasize deadlines. We should emphasize milestones and quality and not time.

• Senior managers don't always allow us to use pure project management techniques. Too many of them are still date driven instead of requirements driven. Original target dates should be used only for broad planning.

• Project management techniques from the 1960s are still being used on most projects. We need to learn how to manage from a plan and how to use shared resources.

• Sometimes we are pressured to cut estimates low to win a contract, but then we have to worry about how we'll accomplish the project's objectives.

• There are times when line personnel not involved in a project change the project budget to maintain their own chargeability. Management does the same.

• Hidden agendas come into play. Instead of concentrating on the project, some people are out to set precedents or score political points.

• We can' t run a laboratory without equipment, and equipment maintenance is a problem because there's no funding to pay for the materials and labor.

• Budgets and schedules are not coordinated. Sometimes we have spent money according to the schedule but are left with only a small percentage of the project activities complete.

• Juggling schedules on multiple projects is sometimes almost impossible.

• Sometimes we filter information from reports to management because we fear sending them negative messages.

• There's a lot of caving in on budgets and schedules. Trying to be a good guy all the time is a trap.

With these comments in mind, let's look at the three critical success factors in achieving project management excellence: qualitative, organizational, and quantitative factors.

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