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Plenty has been written about why projects fail. There are articles, books, seminars and probably advanced academic degrees on this (who wouldn’t enjoy having a PhD in “Advanced Projectfailureism?).

Of course, while knowledge of why projects fail is useful, it’s also pretty bleak. And, with apologies to the economists out there, unless we want to turn project management into the new Dismal Science, we’d better hurry up and start looking at things in a more positive light.

So, instead of focusing on why projects fail, let’s look at things from a happier angle: why they succeed! Here are our top 3 reasons:

1.The Right Personnel

With all of the tools, technologies, systems, plans, charts, diagrams and so on that project managers have at their disposal, it’s easy to forget that projects succeed – or fail – based on the people involved; and, more specifically, whether they’re competent (or not).

Find a successful project, and you can typically credit that outcome directly to the skill and ability of the people involved. Find a flawed or failed project…and we all know where that story goes (but we won’t elaborate, because we’re being very positive today, right?).

2. Autonomy

Project sponsors, project executives and other folks with important job titles are great at authorizing project managers to do their job – but they’re often “not so great” (how’s that for positive language?) at giving them the autonomy they need to succeed.

As a result, many project managers and their teams spend an enormous amount of time either wrestling for control of their project, or just as often, desperately trying to protect the integrity of their project from outsiders who aren’t adding any value (or don’t show up with snacks).

Perhaps the simplest way of saying this is that autonomy and success are go hand-in-hand. Get rid of the former, and the latter is more by luck, and less by design.

3. Project Management Software

The stories that some project managers tell about the state of their project management software – or rather, the lack of it – should be the motivation for a horror movie. I can see the poster now: “The Project Managers Have Eyes”.

(Oh wait, we’re being positive, right? Sorry.)

The thing is, when it comes to success, good project management software isn’t optional and never has been. It’s a fundamental requirement that enables success… or prevents it from happening.

And just what is “good” project management software? It’s the kind that is:

  • Accessible via the cloud
  • Highly customizable
  • Transparent and offers real-time, live reporting
  • Powerful, yet simple to use
  • Integrated with other platforms and software solutions
  • Safe and secure
  • Affordable and scalable

Okay – Your Turn!

So that’s our list. What are your top 3 reason for project success? Are they the same as ours? A little different? Completely different?

Share your views, and let the project management world know what it takes to succeed.


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