Deming defined ‘in control’ as: “when the goals of the system can be predictably met better than 95% of the time.” On this definition projects are definitely ‘out of control’.



In a highly controlled environment, projects are out of control - this makes no sense. But...

Deming defined ‘in control’ as: “when the goals of the system can be predictably met better than 95% of the time.”

On this definition projects are definitely ‘out of control’.

The success rate for projects and programs, depending on the measure you use, is measured as between 40% and 5% - not 95%. Now that’s way out of control.

Why is this? We have comprehensive methodologies that emphasize control – for example, ‘Prince2’ stands for ‘PRojects IN A Controlled Environment’. So we are not lacking a control focus. Yet projects remain wildly out of control.

The answer is actually quite simple. Most of the key controls required are not project management controls.

Yes, you read that correctly. Most of the key controls required are not project management controls – they are business, investment, project governance and portfolio management controls. But these outside-of-the-project controls are too often missing or deficient.

(Deficient controls are actually worse than missing controls, as deficient controls give the impression of control when the control is actually ineffective.)

The lack of effective controls leads directly to wasted expenditure and value loss. And, our research has repeatedly shown, this waste and loss results in over 50% of the available (net) value being missed, lost or wasted.

Any missing or deficient controls are costing you real money and destroying real business opportunities.

To explain the nature of these controls and give you the capability to check your existing controls we have put together a series of “Controlling Projects and Eliminating Waste” videos together with their scripts and checklists (and a few bonuses too).

If you have any accountability for project performance and results, you need to know which controls are effective and which need to be acted upon. You will be quite surprised at some of these key controls and their impacts on your results.

 

Topics: Project Governance

Further Reading

 




Footnotes

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Revision History

First published: Simms, J. (Oct 2014) as "Projects Are 'Out Of Control' - But Why?"

Updated: Chapman, A. (March 2020), Revisions and Corrections