Every single organization, big and small, is running tens of programs and projects. Lot of organizational energy and management bandwidth is consumed in keeping these programs on track.
Less than one-fifth of strategic programs and tactical projects actually see success as intended within the originally estimated time and cost.
Getting this right is not rocket science. But when the issue becomes chronic, it needs a process, system and most importantly, a cultural change.
Our experience at Praxis Global Alliance suggests 10 best practices that can reduce the risk of project failure. As an organization embarks on an ambitious transformational program or even a complicated tactical project, learning from the following collective experiences can help control the initiatives better.
- Not too many, not too less: Initiatives should be clubbed together logically and large initiatives should be split with clear ownership. Having too many or too little streams to track can be challenging.
- Prioritize the initiatives – ones with high value and high urgency should be done first.
- Define the objectives and ‘success statement’ for each initiative and find the most suitable ‘Initiative leader’
- Map people appropriately with right seniority/ tenure/ geo location
- Only accountable leaders should lead respective initiatives and vice versa
- Initiative objectives should be aligned with individual KPIs (and extra rewards)
- ‘Determined sponsorship’ is critical for initiatives to take flight and stay on course. Most initiatives go sideways for controllable and uncontrollable factors and strong sponsor can help navigate internal constraints.
- Each program and initiative should anticipate and plan for risks proactively. Risk assessment should be done periodically as the program progresses
- Communication is key –important to loop in all stakeholders upfront and explain the significance
- Success breeds success… and celebrate key milestones. Showing a track record of achievement of milestones can be motivating to the overall program.
- Cost and time overruns is more a cultural issue than a process issue. Defined check-ins with ‘give me the bad news first’ culture can help identify potential overruns and enable course-correction.
- Technology can enable program management to be done with ease, low process overhead and less redundancy of effort.
- It is important to retire initiatives when their objectives are met. Sometimes old (and low value add) initiatives continue to drain valuable organization resources, time and bandwidth.
This is by no means a comprehensive checklist of how initiatives and programs should be set up. But in our experience, these are the most important tactical best practices to follow apart from other things like ‘visionary leadership’, ‘alignment of initiatives with vision’ et al.
If you are grappling with something like this in your day-to-day business, write to us – we will be happy to exchange ideas.