Mar 31, 2011

Planning or Requirements?

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin in Project & Program Management, Project Management Research | 0 Comments

What's the top reason projects fail? Participants in our webinar last week (you can download the materials here) overwhelmingly said "Planning!" (or I suppose, the lack thereof). But that wasn't the finding of our newest research study, Strategies for Project Recovery, which identified requirements issues as the top cause.

At first I wondered why the difference ... and yet, upon reflection, there's not much wiggle room between bad requirements and poor planning. Surely no amount of planning expertise will make a success out of a project that had its genesis is badly conceived requirements. Excellent requirements management might not save you from poor planning, either (though it might make replanning and recovery easier).

Either way, I found it meaningful that project managers do not seem to blame external issues for their troubles. There was not much evidence of fingerpointing in the results of either the online poll or the research study - no mention of poor executive support or insufficient funding. Instead, they looked failure squarely in the eye and pinned its causes on defects in project management practice. And that seems to me like a very positive development, because when you take responsibility for problems, you begin to develop the capacity to resolve them.

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