Conflicts Between Projects

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In order to meet its goals, every organization launches multiple projects during a fiscal year. Some projects may have dedicated resources, resources that work on only one project at a time. However, more commonly we see some resource types, such as IT, used across many projects. Moreover, they are often assigned multiple projects at the same time.

Consider, for example, Company A, a large financial services firm with more than 15,000 work force members spread across one dozen business units. In the 2002 fiscal year, there are 15 projects vital to the enterprise. These 15 projects involve multiple business units. All projects must be completed in the fiscal year, in order for each business unit and the overall organization to meet its goals. Each business unit is expected to contribute work force to the effort. Each business unit participating within these "enterprise" projects has limited staff. As a result, resources must work on multiple projects during the fiscal year.

Assume that a central "Project Management Office" does not exist for any of the business units or the enterprise. What is the possibility that all of these projects will deliver on time or ahead of schedule?

We claim that the likelihood of finishing most projects on time, on budget and within scope is extremely unlikely. In fact, the Standish Group confirms that only 26% of the projects they surveyed were successful. For IT projects, the figure is only 16%. Why?

Project development work requires process and communication. If you have worked on a project team, you know that often the only constant is change. These changes include changes in requirements, resource availability, and the detailed schedule. These changes can place the best organized project team in dire jeopardy, leaving the team to work in high stress situations that raise the delivery risk even higher.

When change is frequent within a project team, the ability to communicate change rapidly to team members, management and other business units can mean the difference between project delivery success and failure. However, communication is just one of several major challenges.

Change brings about unplanned activity. Therefore, an excellent project plan quickly falls apart when project managers are forced to compete with other project managers over critical resources for which they did not predict a requirement.

Assume you are one of the enterprise project managers responsible for one of the 15 major projects necessary to meet the company goals. Your project involves significant participation from three business units. You feel lucky because your project team has been staffed with some of the very best resources available in the company. Your biggest challenge is that this staff is also working on other concurrent projects.

One month into the project, you find that the assigned work tasks are slipping in all three business units. You determine that this is due in part to the project resources working unplanned activities delegated to them by their business unit management for projects internal to their business unit. This unplanned work is given higher priority than your project work.

You further determine that some of the project team is using different project management methodologies that have different estimating standards, deliverables and work products for essentially the same types of work tasks. You also learn that some of the team members are using spreadsheets to build project tasks lists, whereas others are using project management scheduling so robust that 10% of their time is required to enter and track project work in their areas. You need common data to understand what is going on in the entire project. How do you manage?

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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