The close of one year tends to encourage us to reflect on what has occurred in business analysis and project management during the past year and think about future trends. To summarize the trends we saw in 2013, the need for project managers and business analysts to be trusted advisors and to influence stakeholders, whether on an Agile or more traditional project, has not disappeared. The same can be said for the demands to balance distributed teams’ needs for efficient and effective communication tools with organizations’ needs for consistency and security.
Below are the seven new trends we see in the Project Management and Business Analysis fields for 2014.
1. Continued frothing-at-the-mouth enthusiasm for anything “Agile.”
The “Agile” bandwagon hardly seems to be abating. Whether organizations have really adopted agile, or they have stuck their toe into the shallow end of the “Scrum-but” pool, appetites for big, waterfall-type projects have diminished all around. This concept is further reinforced in the PMBOK® Guide – 5th Edition, released a year ago, which identifies phase-to-phase relationship and project life cycle options that account for waterfall, agile, and everything in between. So even for the PMs who haven’t had exposure to a real agile environment, there is more comfort with the idea that many of the tools and techniques that have served them well in the past can be applied on all types of projects.
At the end of each project the project staff should take a moment and examine what went right and what went wrong. I began to pull together lessons learned, reflecting back after the successful completion of a recent project. When you think about project difficulties poor communications, ill-defined requirements, changing requirements, technology failures all come to mind. It quickly became clear that once again difficulties experienced during the project were not only avoidable but more importantly has become much more problematic in recent years. One of the most pressing problems is demand being placed on resources serving on projects while still performing many if not all of their work duties. It is no wonder that a recent Gallup in its 2013 State of the American Workplace Report identified that 70 percent of the U.S. workforce was either disengaged or miserable! The business and productivity impact of that has to be horrendous. Work overload is one factor that is contributing to such a dismal stat. Today, we all wear multiple hats and have conflicting demand placed on us and that increases stress.
When Project Managers plan implementations, they often do not adequately anticipate failure despite the risks associated with any project. Rather, they plan for the best case scenarios driven by the budget, deliverables, sponsor expectations and deadlines. And despite their best efforts at project management, failure rates remain high.
Project implementations can fail for a number of reasons — ranging from unrealistic expectations, poor methodology, poor requirements, inadequate resources, poor project management, untrained teams, unrealistic budgets, to poor communication and more. With such a long list of factors that can lead to failure, the chances of project implementation success seems low. Those chances can be improved by adopting these 5 best practices. These will help establish a clear understanding of expectations among all the stakeholders—be they business, sponsor, project team, to vendor partners and end users.