Are you really doing the right projects?

“It’s no joke out there. We must tighten our belts a good couple of notches.”

Are there any alternatives? I asked.

“Such as, do tell me.”

What about your key projects? Do you have a list of them? Do they link into the overall strategy of the business?

“What’s the benefit of having this?”

You’ve told me everyone is really busy. You’ve previously told me you are not hitting targets & end dates. You have also told me you are ‘running to stand still’. By identifying key business projects you can free up staff who are working on non business critical work. As you say “it’s no joke out there” – focus on the key pieces of work that need to be delivered rather than “nice to haves.”

“Ok, but staff will not want to let go of the projects they are working on.”

That is a management issue! You will need to ensure:

  • they have bought into the strategy
  • realise which are the key projects that need to be delivered

A project list will facilitate this alongside excellent communications

There is another issue for you to consider. You should really increase your project management training. You can hardly expect staff to deliver key organisational projects if they have not had any training to do this. But, target your project management training on those who will make a difference i.e. those involved in delivering key projects. This way you will be creating strong project management skills linked to live experience of working on key projects.

“Mmm, makes me think that maybe instead of tightening our belts, we should be getting better organised.”

Good summary! It is about ensuring you are doing the right projects and training the right staff to deliver them.

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3 Responses to Are you really doing the right projects?

  1. Bingo! Alignment with business strategy! How often do organizations get out of whack in terms of their core strategy and what they are actually working on day to day. Downturns like this are perfect opportunities to shave off the fluff that does not contribute to business results!

    If it doesn’t add value, kill it! If it does, focus on it!

    Josh Nankivel
    The Art of Project Management

  2. Ron says:

    Bang on Josh.

    There are simply too many projects in organisations today. One of our clients worked out that the number of staff available at any one time to work on the ‘agreed’ projects was simply not enough. Thankfully some have been shaved and some delivered so the number has dropped however the number is still far too high.

    Some years ago a client had 8 strategic projects to deliver in a 12 month period. Only 3 were delivered and they added the remaining 5 to next years ‘key projects’ – 13 to deliver in 12 months…the result, only 4 from the 13 delivered…that is where we came in!


  3. Alec Satin says:

    Hi Ron,

    What if every PM had a variation of this conversation before accepting each new project?

    Perhaps we’d be hearing less about how many projects fail to deliver – and about how well these new project managers have been performing.


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