In my last post, Best Practices Accelerate Value Delivery, we saw how the CIO of a relatively new government agency used a comprehensive best practise based framework to quickly deliver a decision support mechanism that would support the leadership team in their decision-making activities related to IT application and services investments.

In this post, we’ll look at the repercussions a retailer experienced when it decided to move its administrative staff from the downtown headquarters to a suburban setting to provide more retail space and reduce costs. Unfortunately, management failed to include three of the four change pillars in the cost/benefit analysis. They reaped the consequences.

Thanks to L.P. for the details on this case

The Situation

This mid-west retailer housed most of its administrative functions in its historic headquarters in the downtown core. With the tepid recovery from the 2008 financial meltdown, the company’s management were focused on two key challenges: increasing revenue and reducing costs. The COO proposed that the company move administrative staff to a suburban location that offered much less expensive floor space and leverage the vacated space in their headquarters to support a range of high end products and services. Increase revenue and reduce costs in one move! It was viewed as a no-brainer. The proposal was approved.

Why do your best laid plans often go unfulfilled? You have put the right people in the right jobs, empowered them to achieve, drafted an excellent plan and have the necessary buy-in and funding. Yet somehow deliverables are still late and over budget, making for a poor return on investment.

The fact is, knowing the path and walking the path are not the same thing. For example, many of us know how to lose weight (exercise, eat better, etc.) Yet knowing how to lose weight and actually losing it are two totally different things. Likewise, knowing what needs to happen to execute a project successfully and actually executing it are different things. The latter is much harder.

The following is a true story. I happen to know one of the principals involved very well. The names have been withheld to protect the guilty.

The Big Project in a Big Ditch

A multimillion dollar consulting project for a major government agency was in trouble. The big league consulting firm was called to account, and in a panic, they called in their biggest gun to get the project back on track.

Mr. Big Gun walked in and said, "Show me your project plan." Out came the giant Microsoft Project Gantt chart with hundreds of tasks and complex dependencies. He pointed to a task that was scheduled to begin the next day - it was assigned to "Software Engineer 7".

Tuesday, 19 August 2014 00:00

Taking on Too Many Projects

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I realize when we work in an organization that assigns projects to project managers we often don’t have much choice in taking the assignments or turning them down. We can say no to a new project, but if our senior management — which obviously knows what’s on our plates at any given time — thinks we have the bandwidth to take on more work, then we should take on more work, right? What kind of poor project managers would we look like if we said no to more work? Our PMO director must know that we can handle it. And if we show concern over having too much on our plate, does that make us look lazy, weak or uncooperative? Maybe not, but most of us think that is probably the case.

So, if we feel overwhelmed with our current workload only to find more work being thrust upon us, what should we do? Take it? Probably not, because it can be a recipe for failure. The only thing worse than looking lazy, weak or uncooperative (as mentioned above) would be to end up as a complete failure having all of our projects go south as we become even more overloaded, overwhelmed and under-supported. What can we do? Say no? Maybe, but we need to be strategic. Here are four potential actions or responses we can provide when we are concerned about our current project load and feel that more work will lead to failure…

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