Back in 2004, PricewaterhouseCoopers reviewed 10,640 projects from 200 companies in 30 countries across a range of industries, and found that only 2.5% of those companies completed 100% of their projects. By one measure, organizations lose $109 million for every $1 billion invested in projects and programs.
1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK, BUT DON’T OVER-BRAINSTORM
The Project Management Institute reports that only 64% of projects meet their goals. Bridging that divide—between idea and implementation—is the first point where many projects stumble.
2. CONSIDER TEAM CULTURE
Team dynamics are all about culture. Because culture comes down to the beliefs, expectations, and sense of purpose a team shares, it can change according to the project. So think about your project team’s culture just as strategically as you would its goals.
An understanding of, and commitment to, the project’s mission can help guide your team when you confront issues for which no rules exist.
3. START EARLY AND SMALL
With so many unknowns at the start of any project, it’s often impossible to chart a precise course toward success. As a result, it’s important not to get stuck in too many details too early. Once you’ve defined your project’s basic scope, that’s usually enough to start outlining a few of the initial milestones. Leave the later ones for later. With every small first step, the path forward becomes ever clearer.
Project teams can procrastinate just as much as any individual can.
CREATE, MODIFY, REUSE
The biggest lesson from my computer-science schooling was the concept of reusability. In software engineering, that refers to the use of existing assets in some form within the software product development process. More than just code, assets are all the products and byproducts of that life cycle—including everything from design to implementation techniques. So reuse requires separately maintaining versions of those assets as they accumulate from one stage to the next.
This concept can be applied to any project. Not only can this help teams stay efficient as they build on the work they’ve done over the course of a project, it also helps everyone stay motivated.