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6 ways to avoid a doomed project

Tanner James
August 6, 2012

There are plenty of reasons projects fail. Hit up Google and you will get  lots of results about percentages of and reasons for failure.

One thing that is often not considered in these surveys and reports are the steps that the project went through in start-up.

Fact is, projects will fail. Somewhere. Somehow. We can never completely plan and manage every aspect to ensure every project is successful.

What we can do is employ tried and tested techniques and processes to minimise the chances of project failure. Or more positively, ensure that we only embark on projects we are confident will be successful.

One of the main reasons for project failure is trying to do a project that was never sensible to start in the first place. Have you ever been involved in one of those?

PRINCE2 addresses this problem in both the Starting Up a Project process and the Initiating a Project process.

Taking the objectives from the Starting Up a Project Process, here are six ways to avoid a doomed project.

  1. Ensure there is business justification for initiating the project.
  2. Make sure all the necessary authorities exist for initiating the project.
  3. Bring together sufficient information to define and confirm the scope of the project.
  4. Evaluate the various ways the project can be delivered and select a project approach.
  5. Appoint individuals who will undertake the work required in project initiation and/or will take significant project management roles in the project.
  6. Ensure the work for project initiation is planned and time is not wasted initiating a project based on unsound assumptions regarding the project’s scope, timescales, acceptance criteria and constraints.

Remember, the work we do in start-up is not designed to justify the whole project – it is only there to ensure the wrong projects don’t get started and that there is sufficient justification to now plan the project formally in initiation.

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Tanner James
Having introduced PRINCE2 and MSP into Australia, Tanner James is the longest-established and most experienced dedicated provider of UK Cabinet Office accredited PRINCE2 and MSP training and consulting services in Australia. As such, Tanner James is an acknowledged thought-leader in the field of P3 management and whose goal is to enhance its clients' project, program and portfolio management capability.
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