Project Management

When Less Is More

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

I see the project portfolios of a lot of different organizations. I can honestly say I have never felt that an organization had too few projects. In most cases, organizations approve way more initiatives than they are capable of delivering, and then get frustrated when those projects fail to achieve the expected results. Why is there such a reluctance to reduce the number of projects underway? And more importantly, how do we change that mindset?

The problem starts with the way the organization sets priorities. At the enterprise level there may be somewhere between three and five key objectives established for the year, but then there are additional goals set for each division, for each of the departments that make up those divisions, etc. As a result, there are three, four, perhaps even five layers of the organization approving projects. And the level of coordination between anything but the top level is almost nonexistent. So resources end up being allocated to multiple projects at the same time, and the need for work from other business areas is missed. And that doesn’t even consider the fact that projects are approved based on high-level estimates of time and financial cost that are likely to be way too conservative.

At some level organizations already know this. They are used to delaying, combining, cancelling or stripping down projects at various points throughout …

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Solutions are not the answer.

- Richard M. Nixon