Project Success or Armageddon

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Ok we all know about KPIs, LTIs, positive/negative cashflows, WIP, cost reports etc etc. We have dashboards on our laptops spitting out critical data regarding our performance, document management software etc etc. But if you break it right down, what makes a project so bad that the PM pulls the pin before PC.

Consider three simple points

  • the project team
  • the client
  • the budget

My theory is if you can tick all three as acceptable or above, life is great, the project runs safely and financial well, the client is happy for us to build for him again, we all stay until the end and then we spruke about it on our resumes. Of course during the project life these three point can get better or worse but consider them as an average. If we can tick two then life is hard, there may be a reasonable client, but the job is under priced but at least the team gets along and we put it down to experience. If we can only tick one box things are getting serious. Bad client, crappy budget, but the team still gets along, and when we look back a year after PC we only remember the good laughs as we will all probably working for someone else. The worst case, no boxes ticked I shall leave to the end of this missive.

Now say the team is not great, there are some weak links, or in the worst case scenario, the PM has not picked the team, they have been chosen from on high and maybe the leftovers from other projects. Just names to fill in the organisation chart, keep the client happy and you get what you are given.

Now the client. We all have stories about difficult clients. My worst stories are not about clients but the ubiquitous client representatives. Over the last twenty years a whole industry has developed in companies engaged by clients supposedly to look after the client’s best interest, when in fact the only interest satisfied is the representative’s. They have to prove they are necessary so they crucify builders in every which way.

The final one of the trinity is the budget. How many times have you heard PMs say “which bloody lunatic priced this” or a more recent one I heard was “that estimator knows as much about construction as a horse does about astronomy”

Now what happens when none of the three boxes can be ticked. The team is not yours, they have not interacted well, some have left and more hand me downs are parachuted in, the client (more usually his representatives) is impossible and the budget bears no semblance of reality, now we are in trouble. As the great man said “Forget Armageddon, you are in hell already”

Can someone book that one way ticket – please.

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