Primary Reasons of Project Failure and a Simple Solution

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There is a triple constraint In any network architecture project. If a project is failing, it is likely one or more of these variables are out of balance:

Scope

Time

Resources

To save a project, these variables need to be in some type of balance. It’s ironic how as a project fails, an excessive amount of energy is invested into the wrong variable much like pumping water into the hold of a sinking ship. Many project managers are sinking their project by focusing on only one of the three variables.

Over the last decade I have observed how technologies that improve profits do so by reducing the cost of doing business. In essence, these technologies change the balance between scope, time and resources in a positive way.

For example:

Reducing production time always affects either the scope or the resources. Henry Ford realized this and focused resources (money and employee time) on the assembly line and reduced scope by painting the Model-T “… any color as long as it was black”.  As a result, he increased the number of cars built each minute.

Through a combination of changes in technology and business process, the assembly line increased the number of cars built per hour at a cost that did not significantly increase the cost to produce each car.

At the time, the only limit to profitability was the number of cars that could be produced.

Here is the basic story for all technological innovation.

Lewis & Clark took 13 months to walk across the country. Add technology, like rail lines and locomotives, the time is shortened.  In this example, new technology ended the need for walking and reduced the trip by more than half. Newer transportation technology replaced trains which improved travel time from months to hours.

As a technology matures it also becomes more efficient.

 Why walk when there are trains? Who would ride a train, when planes are faster and more comfortable?

This is a simple example that shows how profitable technologies allow the exploitation of time, scope and/or resources.

Triple Constraint Variables

Time:

Time is a measurement of “Now” versus when the project is to be completed. Milestones are associated with a measurement of time between now and completion. Each milestone is associated with the tasks that make up the project. The timing is successful when the tasks are completed at the predicted milestone.

Scope:

Scope is associated with what is to be accomplished. What is accomplished is broken down into smaller and smaller increments called tasks. Tasks have a predictable order, priority and milestone associated with them. Successful tasks are matched with time milestones.

Resources:

Resources boil down to costs. What will it cost to have a task completed? This can be more complicated when time is considered. It’s not enough to calculate the cost of performing tasks, a calculation of completing the task on time is also important. Success occurs when the actual cost associated with the task matches the predicted cost and time associated with that task.

Changing of any of the variables will always affect the other two.

  • Increase the timing of the project and either scope can increase or the cost of resources can decrease.

  • Increase resources and either time can be reduced or scope can be increased.

  • Increase scope and either time must increase or resources must increase.

A company's profit improves when technology is architected in such a way that the cost of using the technology has a positive reduction in time or resources.

Henry Ford added resources on the assembly line with new technology and added manpower to operate the assembly line. The story is well known... how new technology, additional employees and a new process reduced costs and produced more automobiles.

It wasn't long before competitors recognized the need for assembly lines to compete and the competitive advantage was lost. Unless Henry Ford built further competitive advantages, Ford would fall behind.

In Ford’s day, assembly lines were far less efficient. 100 years later, when production lines are at maximum speed, they can produce far more product than can ever be sold. investments in new technology to make assembly lines faster and more efficient will no longer improve the bottom line for individual car manufacturers.

Today, technology has the same impact on business. For our clients to be more competitive, these advantages must be architected into the design. The purpose of change is to save the company money or make the company more productive. Unfortunately, replacing technology with more efficient technology is no longer enough.

In regards to network architecture, we see waves of new technological changes. However, the waves of new technology are only replacing less efficient systems that do the same thing.

Example:

When designing a network that includes cell phone access, it is not new technology... it is an improvement. It is true the difference from cell phone access for a network vs an analog modem connection 40 years ago.

True innovation is not about making the assembly line faster. True innovation means replacing the need for an assembly line.

When evaluating new technologies ask the question, "What are the constraints and which variables will change?  Time, scope or resources…?"

Topics: Business Continuity IT Project Leadership Competitive Advantage Business Technology Project Management