Myth #1: Digital Transformation Projects Are Hard To Get Right – Part #2 (Lesson 2)
Digital transformation projects are actually EASY to get right
How can I say this when experienced project managers, end-user organisations, and industry heavyweight consultancies continue to fail to deliver projects so frequently? Especially when many seem doomed from the start?
How can I make this statement when the evidence clearly points to the opposite?
I can say it because thousands of years of accumulated engineering experience and expertise have gradually become more systematised during the 20th century. Project management in its modern, recognisable, named form starting to take shape from the 1950s.
And after more than 60 years’ further refinement of the project management disciplines used to deliver technology projects, I would posit this thought. As a profession, we have a sufficient body of knowledge to be able to successfully deliver every single project that we undertake.
Think about that for a moment. What impact would that thought have?
How much could your organisation save in non-budgeted costs if every project was delivered to time and budget?
How much more satisfied would your employees and customers be if you fulfilled all of the commitments to outcomes that were made in the business case?
What positive impact could this have on employee churn and knowledge retention?
How much more value could your teams deliver if the budget wasted on overruns could be diverted to new initiatives?
You would become the boardroom hero that you know you can be!
I truly do believe that, contrary to popular belief, digital projects ARE easy to get right. I believe that it is possible to achieve Guaranteed Project OutcomesTM every single time. I have more than 30 years of successful project delivery under my belt to tell me this is true.
If I can do it, you can do it too. So can your teams.
So, how can this be the case? Maybe I have just been lucky?
I can tell you that that is not the case. Every successful project has needed the discipline and hard yards from my whole team.
Just because I say that it is easy to get projects right does not mean that there is no hard work involved. One of the key factors is to work smartly, focussing on doing the right activities, in the right way, with the right people, at the right time to achieve the right outcome.
Projects that fail have obviously done several things wrong along the way (no surprises there). So how does that help you on your quest to deliver your own Guaranteed Project OutcomesTM?
In order to achieve the Guaranteed Project OutcomesTM that you want, you also need to consider the key opposing factor, namely that…
Digital transformation projects are also EASY to get wrong
OK, it may seem as though I am contradicting myself here, but do bear with me!
On the face of it, if I say that digital transformation projects are easy to get wrong, then it would seem to make sense that they must be hard to get right. This is where I challenge the accepted wisdom. I believe that many people seem to look in the wrong place when they try to plan projects.
They look at what they consider to be hard to do, and try to avoid that. Instead, they could focus on what is easy to do, and do plenty of that.
Let me explain. A mature organisation/good project manager will look to ‘lessons learned’ from earlier projects to avoid the challenges they encountered.
In many instances that I have seen, however, this is nothing more than a nod to process. They acknowledge earlier challenges, and the team agrees that, ‘Well, we will not do that then!’
Then they immediately move on to more exciting and pressing issues like getting the project underway.
The lessons are forgotten, and the team – once again – is surprised when their very own ‘Groundhog Day’ somehow comes around in an all-too-familiar fashion.
So why is it that, even when the right governance is put in place, projects can still spiral so horrifically out of control?
Why is it that neither the supplier nor the client seems able to recognise what is happening? Why does nobody take the necessary steps to avoid the challenges becoming major problems?
It is as though some natural disaster is unfolding before everyone’s eyes, with huge forces driving everything towards a terrible, unavoidable outcome.