“Overdue and over budget, over and over again” pulled from The Economist. http://www.economist.com/node/4065653
Overview: This article outlines the challenges projects and project managers’ face in keeping projects within the designated time frame and within the budget. More importantly, it states that over 180 years of project management, very little has changed. In the past, projects were routinely over budget and took longer than anticipated. Even today with technological advances, including the various project management software, projects continue to run over budget and require time extensions. Within the article, current projects are highlighted, such as the oil pipeline from Azerbaijan’s Caspian wells to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, which is running several months behind schedule and is currently 5-10% over its four billion dollar budget. As most of us would probably expect, The Economist points out that many of the current large-scale projects are IT focused. Even with increased technology and technological support, these projects are just as likely to cost more money and require more time that planned. This includes the process of moving patient records to electronic health record systems in the healthcare sector; which is a process many hospitals and clinics are currently undergoing.
There are astounding statistics included in the article: on average, recent large-scale IT projects took 84% more time than expected and costs tended to be 59% above the original budget. Additionally, projects are cited as experiencing the most challenges when the initiation phase gets separated from execution, such as when project managers make unrealistically optimistic budgets. However, the Project Management Institute has found that more companies are now employing designated project managers, which will hopefully improve project outcomes in meeting budgets and timeframes.
Personal reaction: Overall, I was not surprised by what I read in this article. I think it is common for projects to be proposed with budgets and timeframes that are unrealistic in an attempt to secure a contract or impress management. Unfortunately, this sets the projects up for failure and furthers the precedent that projects will not meet the initial proposal. In my current position, we use Excel project planners to develop timeframes and monitor project progress. I do find this helpful in keeping my peers and clients updated, but it does add another layer of work, which can be time consuming. However, my current position involves many ongoing client projects at a time, therefore, Excel is a necessity in keeping myself organized and on top of their statuses. When I reflect on this, I think having designated project managers could be very beneficial in large organizations where there are many projects to juggle. In smaller organizations, such as my current employer, I do not believe it would be necessary or would result in improved project outcomes.
Peer questions: Are you surprised to hear that project management has not improved, resulting in projects that continue to come in over budget and exceed the timeframe? Do you believe that designated project managers within corporations will change these outcomes? For those of you that use project management software in your work environment, do you find that is helpful? Have you had to ask a client or your manager for a project extension? If so, how did you handle it and how did they react? Lastly, do you have designated project managers in your organization? If so, how do they interact with the various team members and clients?