Failure is an unavoidable part of any project process … what is the old motto fail to plan, plan to. However sometimes, it is the degree of failure that makes the difference. A lot of project are under immense pressure to deliver and not just deliver the project, but ensure that value is also delivered. Project managers can learn as much, if not more, from failed projects as they can from successful ones. Here are three major projects that had enormous issues:
- New Coke as Coca-Cola is one of the most iconic brands in the world this was deemed for success. Coca-Cola made a basis error and neglected market research to see if there was a need for developing a new product, but they were blind to their own customers’ motivations and it failed due to a lack of engagement
- Challenger Space Shuttle in 1986 failed due to a leak in one of the two solid rocket boosters that set off the main liquid fuel tank. The NASA investigation that followed said the failure was due to a faulty design
- Dublin Port Tunnel in 2005 was deemed a heroic gesture by the Dublin Transport Agency to bridge Dublin Post with the outside of the city. Designed with diligence, it failed due to poor media engagement and hazards becoming reality (even those that were never visualized)
Successful projects begin with a strong plan. But also successful projects have a strong finish and it can be argued that the finish is more important than the start.
There is a huge emphasis on project closure and ensuring that the project is able to close. Not just the timeline, but has the project achieved what it is supposed to and how it deliver the intended value. What this means, it makes the need for efficient closure to be an asset to any project management process. Here are some of the things, you should look for during closure:
- You have given yourself the highest high-five you can and a long and refreshing walk
- You have followed all company-specific closure procedures
- Your team mates have been appropriately thanked by you personally
- Feedback is collected from the client
- A project is retrospective is completed
- A project is ‘done’ emails has been distributed across the business?
- A project is ‘done’ email has gone to the client with all inclusions and exclusions
- All items that are left for ‘later’ are taken care of?
- Were items left uncompleted from any of the plans or timelines?
Let’s go on record as saying that closure does not need to be perfect. It is not about the perfect delivery of a project or the project delivering everything according to plan. It is about ensure a project is able to effectively communicate what was achieved and the rationale about it. It is really as simple as that.
Project closure should address three keys items::
- The scope: both the original planned scope and the scope that was met by the final result of the project.
- The issues and risks faced by the project and how they were dealt with during the execution of the project and what is left over
- The actual data versus the planned data.
Let’s avoid more project failures and lets focus on projects closing perfectly versus having a perfectly closed project.