Project Management

Team Success Is More Important Than Project Success

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 [email protected]. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

Over the years, I have asked many new project managers about what one thing they think will make them successful. Most of them will give me an answer related to the success of the project. Well, I’m sorry, but that’s wrong. There are two main reasons: the relationship between the work of the project and its success, and the type of work your first project likely entails.

Let’s look at those two things separately. First off, a project succeeds by achieving its business goals. If you are working on a system upgrade, it’s not the upgrade itself that defines the success, it’s the improved performance, reduced risk, etc. that represents the value that the business is looking to gain.

As the project manager, that’s largely beyond your control. Certainly, you can contribute to project failure by not leading your team to complete the upgrade effectively. But you could deliver all of the requirements on time and under budget and the upgrade might still not achieve what the business wants. And that’s not your fault. This makes it hard for project managers to drive project success; their role is frequently more about avoiding project failure.

Now let’s consider the second aspect. When you are a new project manager, the likelihood is that your project isn’t very important. All of the major initiatives will have been assigned to…

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"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no use being a damned fool about it."

- W. C. Fields