Many Organizations Commence Projects They Cannot Deliver
Many years ago, my (then) 4-year old son announced he was going to swim across the swimming pool. While I admired his determination, I was bemused as I knew he could not swim. Undaunted, he pushed off from the side of the pool. And sank. (We rescued him.) - Jed Simms
“Pushing off when you can’t swim” is what many organizations do when they propose major projects. They have admirable commitment but inadequate capability. Inevitably they will therefore sink.
Why do so many organizations lack “value delivery” capability?
It's because their organization is not set up to successfully deliver major projects or transformations.
- Their business model does not incorporate the tools, techniques and processes required to deliver major projects successfully and to deliver the available value.
- Their processes, frameworks, beliefs and support systems are not designed to deliver projects well, let alone fully deliver the available value.
Their projects, at best, are designed to deliver “something” that can hopefully be claimed as “success”.
‘Sinking’ is the norm.
The statistics on projects are not good:
- Around 60% of projects fail to deliver on-time or on-budget or to specification or any combination of these criteria.
- Around 95% of projects fail to deliver the business outcomes desired and their associated benefits in full.
- Around 70% of mergers fail. Around 70% of strategies are not successfully implemented. And so the list goes on.
These statistics illustrate that when organizations commit to undertaking one or more major projects – their likelihood of success - measured by the full delivery of the desired business outcomes, benefits and value - is low to very low.
High Project Failure Rates Are Not Inevitable
They can be improved, but only if the organization chooses to change the way it thinks about, approaches and executes projects.
When you think about it, orthodox project delivery approaches are designed to control inputsto the project: the costs of delivery and resources. What is needed are approaches that are focus on defining and tracking the outputs: the desired business outcomes, benefits and value. Outcomes, benefits and value are not the language of orthodox projects.
A few years ago, I walked around the booths at an international project management conference. These booths were selling every conceivable piece of project-related software, training, techniques and tools. None (zero) of those booths had any mention of ‘benefits’ or ‘value’ in their displays or literature. It just was not part of their thinking or language. Jed Simms
Project Delivery Is Not the Same as Value Delivery
In recent years, the project management community have got ‘religion’ and that ‘delivering value is important’. But the tools, techniques or processes to consistently deliver value are not widely known. Bolting-on some benefits tracking and measurement to the end of a project is not a value delivery process and is far too little too late.
Value delivery is an end-to-end process, a way of thinking and a different approach. It needs value-focused belief systems, processes, measures of success and more. It needs to become an organizational capability – an end-to-end value delivery business model.
The Concept of “Capability”
Every organization needs to be clear as to what it is ‘capable’ of – what it is expressly set up to achieve successfully and effectively. For example:
- Manufacturers need to be highly capable in the areas of efficient manufacturing and distribution.
- Retailers need to be highly capable in the areas of merchandising and customer service.
- Utilities need to be highly capable in the areas of asset management and service delivery.
All of these organizations also need to change and improve to continue to prosper successfully. As most change is executed through projects, they, therefore, need to be highly capable in value delivery management.
Very few organizations are “value delivery” capable.
Most put their emphasis on improving project delivery – with relatively few good results being delivered - as they tend to abdicate project management to the ‘project experts’.
Organizations must make a choice: arm themselves with an effective, end-to-end value delivery capability; or choose to sink, repeatedly and expensively.