Scary Stories from Project Management

December 6, 2013 3:17 pm
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It’s not just ghosts and ghouls that scare us at Coriolis. We are often called in to help turn around a project that has run into problems, and some of the things we find are very scary. Here are some real life examples.

No clear brief

Contrary to popular opinion, most capital projects are not haunted. It’s usually the initial brief that is to blame. How many times have we been told that the project was really urgent, only to find that the client had committed to spending large amounts of money without a clear and aligned view of scope, costs and resource requirements.

It’s not difficult or time consuming to get it right. A structured approach to project initiation will lead to a much higher chance of success and considerably less finger pointing at the end.

Financial tracking

Managing project finances is relatively straightforward so long as you track commitments as well as cash flow. One client had a nasty surprise when they spent the project contingency without checking whether there were any outstanding order payments. Inevitably the project went over budget, all for the want of an updated spreadsheet.

Poor Contractor Management

No, it wasn’t a poltergeist that left the Production Hall looking like that.

Roles & Responsibilities not defined

Projects are delivered by people. Projects are ultimately about coordinating their activity to achieve the specified objectives. So that means everyone needs a clear understanding of what they are being asked to do. Without this the Project Manager will get a nasty shock later when he or she is told ….. “I thought someone else was doing that”.

Scope Creep & Change Control

Many problems have their root cause in poor change control. Projects are often complex undertakings with lots of stakeholders, all of whom may be tempted to change something in the specification or project plan. Unfortunately this usually means spending more money. The change may be the right thing to do, but unless it is managed as part of a controlled and documented process you are asking for nightmares. On average we find that poor change control adds 10% to the cost of a capital project, or even more.

So if you want to avoid waking up in a cold sweat, or you want an independent view on how to improve your capital projects, talk to Coriolis.