Back in May, Stephen Seay had a bunch of reasons for Why Is My Project Late? at his Project Steps blog. The list included the usual suspects:
- Design Changes
- Skill Sets
- Unplanned Work or Workarounds
- Team Morale
- Work Environment
- Project Manager Overload
I agree that all of these things conspire to delay projects. Is there a deeper cause to why these things cause chaos in projects? What about the management sources for why a project is late? Namely, we assume that managing individual tasks will guarantee a successful project. As a result,
- we measure adherence to the scheduled task completions
- task times are padded to deal with uncertainties at the task level
- any task delay appears to be catastrophic
- tasks are rarely completed early
- synchronizing tasks (tasks that need to be completed before another task can start) are guaranteed to start late because at least one precursor task is late
Then add multi-project environments on top of this and we get these effects coupled with the impact of multitasking, which makes things even worse.
Maybe we should change how we manage projects to focus on what we want: successfully completed projects.