Biggest Sin in Project Management

Project management has been around for decades. Although there have been advancements in methods, processes and tools, but project still go wrong. They go wrong for the same reasons all the time.

It is amazing that despite the money and time thrown at projects and the importance stressed on the success of the project that they still go wrong. Numerous times I have been tasked to assess project success, offer an independent view over the project and make recommendation especially whether of not it will succeed. Take a look at a project in its first few months and you will know if it will be a success or not. More often than not, projects repeat what went on before, both good and bad.

Many organisations fail to pay attention to painful lessons learned from past projects. Many don’t actually conduct a lessons learned assessment at the end of a project so the lessons get lost with the disbandment of the project team. Others perform an assessment, but don’t utilise this valuable information.

So the biggest sin in project management is not learning the valuable lessons of past projects.

Simple enough, but only when we learn to do this then will we reduce the number of projects that fail!

One response to “Biggest Sin in Project Management

  1. Neil,

    I describe it as “not paying attention” and by not paying attention, as you said, just repeating the mistakes of the past.

    I’m not that crazy at waiting until the end to capture lessons learned or to make improvements. What we do and how we do it should be captured naturally in the process of doing the project (and always available to everyone who wants to see what is going on and what we di). I would rather look at the history of project plans (all the plan revisions), defect repository (history of problems and how they were resolved) and periodic progress reports (assuming they were reasonably informative) than just a lessons learned report (which I still would like to see).

    As to being someone who is asked to come in and review projects, here is my humorous experience based upon a past position where I did this:

    Nice note.

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