Analysis & Data from 5 Perspectives
How To Protect Your Project?
In this time of budget cuts and resource constraints, how do you know if your project is at risk? Here you will find a list of factors that could affect your project's access to resources.
Knowing the extent to which your project is at risk will enable you to get out in front of the process and minimize the potential impact.
What Projects Are Most at Risk?
Cutting costs and driving efficiency now top the agenda. Given the money tied up in projects and initiatives, it is little wonder that they are a prime target for savings.
Whether you call it a project consolidation or project cull, it is clear that projects and initiatives face greater scrutiny than ever. While cuts are likely to be felt across the portfolio, some projects risk deeper cuts than others – some may even get the axe!
An Early Warning System for Your Project?
For those who are leading the most at-risk projects the new scrutiny should not come as a surprise. Yet, project teams do get taken off guard.
Rather than ‘getting out in front' of any strategic decision regarding their project, they find themselves on the back foot. The result is that decisions regarding their projects are being made when they are not in the room.
If only project leaders and sponsors could get an early warning of the risk to their projects. If only they knew what the cost-cutting accountants are looking for – those factors that put projects at greater risk.
What Projects are most at risk?
How do you know if your project is at risk? Based on our research, here are the factors that could make your project a prime candidate for cost-cutting, or worse:
Own a portfolio, rather than just a single project Find out the source of savings within your portfolio using this research
1. Projects that are struggling to deliver:
- Projects that have missed a deadline or are running over on budget.
- Projects that have failed to successfully engage stakeholders and address their needs / expectations
- So called ‘waterfall’ projects or initiatives – those that have not delivered (or will not deliver) results for some time.
- A project that is having a ‘wobbly moment’ – a crisis of confidence or have reached a critical inflection point.
- Projects that depend on effective cross-functional collaboration, but are struggling to get interdepartmental buy-in.
2. Projects that are not clearly connected to today's changed business needs & priorities. Whether a project is an IT project, a HR project or anything else, what matters most is business performance / success. Remember the No. 1 reasons for failed or scrapped projects is changing business needs / priorities.
3. Project that lack solid business fundamentals – where there is a lack of clarity or alignment in respect of:
- Business Need(s)
- Market Reality
- Strategic Ambition
- Project Confidence
- Business Impact
- Business Investment
- Business Urgency
- Business Unusual/Complexity
4. Lack of political support. The most worth projects get supported, right? Well, not necessarily so. Of course, projects must compete on their merits, but all projects need political support if they are to succeed. This can be a blind spot for projects where people have been busy doing the work, but have had little time to communicate the progress being made.
5. Projects that are considered to have ‘a lot of fat’. Where there is the suspicion of inefficiency or waste. This includes areas of potential duplication. Also, where there is the appears of lack of budget control/discipline.
6. Projects that are looking for more funding. For example:
- Projects that don't have a longer term / rolling budget in place, but need to regularly go in search of funding to stay alive.
- Projects that don’t have a clearly costed budget and rely on indirect subvention by various departments/budgets.
- Projects with a lot of contractors and high levels of variable costs that are easy to cut.
- A project that is coming to the end of one phase and requires approval for the next phase to begin.
7. Projects that don't seem to fit with the present more cautious mood and the changed economic climate:
- Projects that (in the context of slower growth) might be seen as overly ambitious. For example, where the forecast results are in the form of a ‘hockey stick’.
- High risk projects, where the tolerance for risk has now fallen.
- A project that is seen as extravagant, wasteful or ‘a nice to have’ in the light of the changed climate.
- Projects that have been over-hyped. So called ‘Potemkin Projects’ that have little substance. This includes yesterday’s projects that may have gone out of fashion.
8. Projects that are Business Unusual – that address longer term opportunities / challenges and adjacent or new products/markets. By nature these tend to be more speculative/risky in nature. Looking beyond the short term is difficult when performance today and tomorrow are at risk. Moreover, business unusual initiatives can be seen as a threat by the core business.
9. Obviously, the easiest projects to target for savings are those that have not yet started. For example, delaying the start by 6 or 9 months is easier than stalling a project that is in full flight. Thus, projects that are still in the planning stage or have been slow to get off the ground are at greater risk.
10. Projects without a powerful and committed sponsor – the sponsor may have moved within the organization or elsewhere. Also, projects without a dedicated project leader. Ensuring that your project is not in the hands of a skilled and experienced project leader is the first test of organizational commitment.
11. Peripheral projects—projects that are taking place on the margins—have largely been operating ‘beneath the radar'—sometimes called ‘skunk work', as well as pet projects and legacy commitments.
If one or more of the above factors apply to your project or initiative, then it may be at greater risk of cuts or worse. However, this risk can be reduced by addressing the concerns others may have regarding your project’s claim on resources.
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