In many industries there is a fine line between profit and disaster. This is especially true for small businesses, where even a tiny mistake can can have big negative implications. Owners and managers need to ensure that their projects are living up to expectations in order to be successful and stay in business.
How many times have you started a project only to have it spiral out of control? Mistakes, delays, and other problems can be costly – both to you and your company. Here are some common reasons projects fail, and ideas to be aware of before you start your next big project.
Possibly the biggest mistake any company can make is to not have a plan. A project without a plan is like a football team without a quarterback – it just won’t work. The most common plan used by businesses is a “project plan”: a plan that outlines your final goal, your plan to get there, and what resources are needed along the way. It is a good idea to involve all project team contributors in the planning phase. This will help encourage your team to stay on track.
An equally important mistake to avoid is having an unrealistic budget. All managers know they have to set and stick with a budget. However, few managers really know how to set a proper budget, and many projects end up being over budget. The easiest things you can do are:
- Determine the knowable costs. These can include software, parts, wages, fixed costs, etc. Be sure to include costs like shipping and tools needed for the project.
- Consider different parts of the project separately. Try to think which are more likely to have problems. Budget an extra percentage of the total costs based on how risky that aspect is.
- Look at budgets from similar past projects. These will help you judge whether you are on the right track.
Poorly defined expectations
Many projects suffer from members not really understanding the expected outcome of efforts made. This could cause a decrease in morale among your employees. It’s best to review and update goals regularly, and tweak the scope or timelines as progress is made. It’s also equally important to involve employees in this process.
While some change in the focus of the project can be good, beware of scope creep – uncontrolled or big changes to the original plan of the project. This can happen when the extent of the project is not properly defined or controlled. It is important that you clearly define the scope of the project with both yourself and your employees, and try to make as few changes as possible.
This cannot be stressed enough: communication is very important. Many projects fail due to lack of good communication and interaction between the parties involved. We recommend that you stay in constant contact with all parties to ensure understanding of the project. Encourage an open communication environment where any employee can talk about anything and suggest ideas.
With good communication, a clear focus on the project and a solid plan your next IT project is on its way to be a successful one. For more information on project planning, please contact us.