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by | Nov 8, 2018

Project Management Fundamentals and Best Practices

A 2015 survey by Innotas showed that 55% of all IT projects failed. Meanwhile, the Standish Group notes that fewer than 1/3 of all projects were successfully completed on time and on budget over the past year.  Maximo projects are unfortunately no exception. Managing Maximo projects can be difficult.

Many of you have seen the cartoon below that depicts how difficult it is to gather the correct requirements, design the system, build, test, deliver and maintain software.  There are however some basic Project Management fundamentals and best practices that will increase the chance of success.
The causes of project failure and ways to improve your chance of success will be discussed in this blog.

A successful project is important because organizations invest a lot of time and money and therefore expect value.  Failed projects have the potential to impact business continuity and operations.  In addition, personal reputations are often on the line as nobody wants to be associated with a failed project.

There are many causes of project failure.  They include poor project planning, bad leadership, failure to define the project scope and enforce it, poor communication, competing or changing organizational priorities, and the inability to take corrective action.

Planning for a successful project

The starting point for a successful project is the planning phase.  Ben Franklin famously said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”.  This advice still rings true today.  Many organizations fail to plan properly because project planning is time consuming and does not immediately produce tangible results. Instead, many organization dive head first into the project only to realize later they did adequately plan the project.  Planning for a project means to create a project charter, identify stakeholders, establish project objectives, identify potential risks, develop a high-level task list, and create an initial cost estimate.  Planning the project helps to define the scope of the project and communicate project objectives, therefore avoiding the miscommunication as depicted in the earlier cartoon.

Considering Risk

Project risk must always be considered. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI) you can do three things with risk.  You can either accept risk, transfer risk or mitigate risk.  During a project it is possible you’ll do all three. Keeping a risk register and tracking risk is a key component to project success. I often use a risk heat map which is a graphical way to depict the likelihood of a risk occurring and the impact of the risk.  For example, a risk could have a low probability of occurrence but a high impact if it does occur.  It is up to the Project Manager to determine how best to handle this type of risk.

Avoiding Scope Creep

‘Scope creep’ is known as the project killer.  Root causes of scope creep include ambiguous or unrefined scope definition, a lack of formal scope management, inconsistent processes for collecting requirements, a lack of sponsorship or stakeholder involvement, and the length of a project.  Projects that have a long duration are much more likely to fail.  When dealing with a large project, I recommend breaking it down into smaller more manageable pieces.  This allows you to show faster progress and is easier to manage.  In order to control scope creep, I suggest using a steering committee and tracking each scope request as it relates to schedule and cost. A clearly defined scope management process will be critical to project success.

Critical Success Factors

Finally, there are two critical success factors when undertaking a Maximo project. The first is integrations.  As an Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system, Maximo by definition will integrate with other corporate systems.  The number and complexity of these integrations will vary from organization to organization, but each stakeholder and project manager must carefully consider these integrations and their complexity. My personal experience is that integrations often take longer and cost more than you think so always do proper planning and research before undertaking these activities.

The second consideration is data quality.  As the old saying goes; garbage in garbage out. It does not make sense to implement a new Maximo system or perform an upgrade if all you are going to do is use the old corrupted or missing data.  So, I always advise clients to carefully examine their data and consider the accuracy and quality. It will likely be worth the time and effort to establish good data policies and clean data before undertaking a Maximo project.

See Mark’s blog below for more Maximo Project pitfalls!

Craig Bowser

Craig Bowser

Craig Bowser has a doctorate degree in strategic security and served 24 years in the U.S. Army. He is a certified project management professional (PMP) and has over 20 years of project management experience.

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