Why No One Can Manage Projects - Especially Technology Projects - PM 360 Consulting
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-17667,single-format-standard,wp-custom-logo,theme-bridge,woocommerce-no-js,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode-content-sidebar-responsive,columns-4,qode-theme-ver-11.0,qode-theme-bridge,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.1.1,vc_responsive

Why No One Can Manage Projects – Especially Technology Projects

Project Management Skills

Why No One Can Manage Projects – Especially Technology Projects

Project Management Skills

“Project Management” is an enormous industry.  Software, training, certifications and even Masters degrees – everything you can imagine — to make us better at managing simple and complex projects.  But we keep failing. Over and over again.  Is there a solution?  Yes.

Research on PM effectiveness reveals there are 7, or 9, or 10 reasons why projects fails.  Maybe more.  Always more.   The Project Management Institute reports that “only 58% of organizations fully understand the value of project management … (and) … only 23% of organizations use standardized project management practices across the entire organization.”  While these numbers suggest that if more companies valued or implemented project management tools and techniques everything would improve, there may some other things at work.  Why do only 58% of companies value project management?

Why is this an uphill battle?  Is it possible that companies don’t value or practice project management because they don’t believe it works?  Or are there some other reasons why standardized project management tools and techniques are left at the altar?

Note that technology projects fail the most:

“IT projects are notoriously difficult to manage”  A survey published in HBR found that the average IT project overran its budget by 27%.  Moreover, at least one in six IT projects turns into a ‘black swan’ with a cost overrun of 200% and a schedule overrun of 70%.  In other words, while most IT projects will fall short of their budget targets, a few might overshoot the targets so much as to cause catastrophic organization-wide problems.  KMart’s massive $1.2B failed IT modernization project, for instance, was a big contributor to its bankruptcy. 

“A PwC study of over 10,640 projects found that a tiny, tiny portion of companies – 2.5% – completed 100% of their projects successfully.  The rest either failed to meet some of their original targets or missed the original budget or deadlines.  These failures extract a heavy cost – failed IT projects alone cost the United States $50-$150B in lost revenue and productivity. 

“To give you an idea of the abysmal success rate of most projects, only 40% of projects at IBM meet the company’s three key goals – schedule, budget, and quality.

“17% of IT projects can go so bad that they can threaten the very existence of the company”

Software Isn’t the Answer

While companies – especially companies whose projects fail all the time – almost always use project management software, we should not assume that the answer is better software or better software training.  These tools are just that, and sometimes all they do is make it easier for project managers to track their failures and prepare more interesting post mortems.

Nor are Management Artifacts, Like SCRUM or DevOps

The answer is not to commit to Agile, SCRUM or DevOps either.  While these methods, tools and techniques can help, they’re anything but elixirs.  In fact, they too frequently fail.   


The answer’s not here either.  Sure, they can help, especially if they’re willing to speak truth to (client) power, but many of them worry as much about keeping their contracts in place as anything else.

Poorly Defined Objectives & Inevitable Scope Creep

Of course, but project objectives are conceived by people and scope creep is caused by people.  It’s always about the people.

Projects Fail Because of People  

All of the software, tools and management elixirs in the world will not save project management.  Only people can save project management.  We can implement project management software, we can train and train, we can give awards for the smartest PM student in the class, we can hire consultants to tell us how to manage our most precious projects, and we’ll still fail unless we focus on the real reasons why so many projects fail.

Years ago I wrote a book – IT’s All about the People:  Technology Management That Overcomes Disaffected People, Stupid Processes and Deranged Corporate Cultures – that focused on the human element in technology.  The premise is as correct today as it was then.  All of our efforts to avoid technology project failures can be simplified if we focus primarily on the humans who plan, fund and execute technology projects.

This is not a new concept.  Listen to what Matt Asay (and Gartner) said about big data projects:

“A year ago, Gartner estimated that 60% of big data projects fail.  As bad as that sounds, the reality is actually worse.  According to Gartner analyst Nick Heudecker‏ this week, Gartner was ‘too conservative’ with its 60% estimate.  The real failure rate?  ‘[C]loser to 85 percent.’  In other words, abandon hope all ye who enter here, especially because “[T]he problem isn’t technology,” Heudecker said.  It’s you.”

Many analyses of project failures focus on humans, usually defined around poor leadership and teaming.  Skills, competencies and communications are also often mentioned.  Even corporate culture is identified as a culprit.  So what’s the answer? How do we reduce the number of technology project failures?  

Vet, Vet & Vet Some More   

It’s hard to assess people objectively.  But it’s necessary if we want to reduce the number of project failures.  All of the people involved in project management must be vetted according to their previous successful project experience, their leadership abilities, their soft skills, their ability to work in teams and the basic skills and competencies necessary to complete technology projects successfully.  This is a tall and always incomplete order primarily because no company has an abundance of experienced successful project managers (PMs) or teams.  How do we know this?  Because experienced project managers know just who to recruit for their next projects.  How many times have we seen PMs searching again and again for David, Jen or Robin for their next project?  They know the chances of success are improved dramatically with the right people (and dismal with the wrong ones).

Find – & Reward – Real Leaders

Leadership must occur at all levels:  corporate, LOB, CFO, CIO, CTO, CISO and teams.  Is technology project management cultural?  Absolutely.  Companies must embrace and reward project management.  They must find and reward leaders – and punish those that cannot lead by clearing their project slates.  Companies are well aware of their leadership problems.  Very few have an abundance of good leaders; hardly any have a cadre of great ones.  Bad ones can get marginalized in lots of creative ways, but should never get near large technology projects, like the implementation of ERP applications which are already plagued by failure.  As suggested below, leaders should successfully complete residencies before leading any significant projects.  But much more importantly, without the aforementioned soft skills, “leaders” cannot be leaders. The problem is that executives and managers are forever hesitant to pull the plug on ineffective professionals.  Worse, they often reward them sideways or, worse, upwards.

Build the Right Teams

Team functionality and dysfunctionality have been studied to death, often with more opinions than data.  One of the most cited analysis belongs to Patrick Lencioni who identifies the following dysfunctionalities:

  • Absence of trust – unwilling to be vulnerable within the group
  • Fear of conflict – seeking artificial harmony over constructive passionate debate
  • Lack of commitment – feigning buy-in for group decisions creates ambiguity throughout the organization
  • Avoidance of accountability – ducking the responsibility to call peers, superiors on counterproductive behavior which sets low standards
  • Inattention to results – focusing on personal success, status and ego before team success


Absent from the list are intelligence, successful experience, soft skills, maturity, motivation, domain knowledge and incentives.  If these traits were present across a team, would there be less dysfunction?  As I noted elsewhere“incentives are essential to team performance.  Without adequate – generous – incentives, teams will not be as productive as they should.  Specialization is another one: linebackers should not play quarterback.  The idea that ‘talent’ is horizontal is silly.  Professionals can solve specific problems, but not all problems.  Teams should be assembled according to the demands of the problem at hand.  The notion that ‘we can move Harry’ here or there creates team dysfunctionality and threatens productivity.  Teams come and go.  There aren’t any great teams sitting on the bench just waiting to be deployed.  They’re assembled, unassembled and re-assembled in real-time and over time.”

Fix Training

The challenge here is the assumption that everyone can be trained to perform better than they were – or are.  Those in the trenches know that training doesn’t always improve performance, no matter how good the training may be or how many times it occurs.  Companies that try to train everyone to become better project managers (or project management software jockeys) waste most of their money.  Vetting requires identifying the professionals most likely to benefit from training – and refusing to train those least likely to benefit.  But how are the “most likely to benefit” selected?  Start with past records and then shift to organization and communication skills.  Note that:  “soft skills are increasing in importance for project managers.  51% of respondents in PMI’s 2018 survey said that soft skills are more important today, while only 19% said that this skill requirement is unchanged.”  Put another way, don’t try to soften up demonstrably-hard-to-communicate-or-work-with-people in your company.  Everyone knows who they are, and never put them in charge of projects no matter how many degrees or friends they have — and don’t train them for something they’ll never do.

The industry also likes to train people the wrong way.  Classroom training?  Are doctors trained that way, or are they immersed into the practice of doctoring?  Other professions do the same thing, but most companies “(79%) offer onsite, classroom-based training using in-house trainers.  However, a significant – and growing – number (51%) are now relying on external trainers for onsite classes as well … larger organizations are also more likely to use on-demand, online training … on average, these organizations spent 5 days per year in training … high-performing organizations use a variety of PM training strategies.  79% use PM software tool training, 76% offer training on PM basics, 67% offer advanced PM skills development, and 61% offer leadership training.” All of this is wrong. 

Training should be re-invented around practice.  Project management residents should learn how and what to do to manage projects successfully, and just like the medical profession, bad project managers should be washed out of their residencies.

It’s Always Been All About the People

Is this lesson just too hard to learn?  As with so many corporate problems, we know how to solve them.  But here too people get in the way of solving people problems.  The thoughts above represent some small steps toward successful technology project management.  But at the end of the day, successful project management depends upon our willingness to make hard decisions about the people in our professional lives, decisions that we’ve avoided forever.


Article written by Steve Andriole 1st December 2020




  • osg777.net
    Posted at 07:24h, 26 May Reply

    Spot on with this write-up, I seriously feel this web site needs a lot more attention. I’ll probably be back again to see
    more, thanks for the info!

  • Laboratory Equipment Market
    Posted at 08:29h, 26 May Reply

    My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and find the majority of your post’s to be precisely what I’m looking for.

    Would you offer guest writers to write content for you?
    I wouldn’t mind producing a post or elaborating on some of
    the subjects you write about here. Again, awesome website!

  • virtual card buy with cryptocurrency
    Posted at 13:28h, 26 May Reply

    I read this piece of writing fully about the comparison of most up-to-date and
    previous technologies, it’s awesome article.

  • new online stores couiponscodediskount and offer
    Posted at 13:59h, 26 May Reply

    It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d certainly
    donate to thijs outstanding blog! I guess for now
    i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.

    I look forward to brand neew updates and will talk about ths website with myy Facebook group.
    Chatt soon!

  • Click Here
    Posted at 14:28h, 26 May Reply

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the greatest blogs on the internet.
    I will highly recommend this site!

  • Nutri4verve
    Posted at 15:02h, 26 May Reply

    Exceptional post however , I was wanting to know if you could
    write a litte more on this topic? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further.

    Appreciate it!

  • new online shopping vucherkodesdiscount and ofers
    Posted at 15:34h, 26 May Reply

    Very soon this web site wilpl be famous among all blogging users, due
    to it’s nice posts

    Feel frede to surf to my site … new online shopping vucherkodesdiscount and ofers

  • seo expert description
    Posted at 15:35h, 26 May Reply

    I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Exceptionally well written!

  • Base Oil Market
    Posted at 15:47h, 26 May Reply

    You are so cool! I don’t believe I’ve read anything like this before.
    So good to find somebody with a few genuine thoughts on this subject
    matter. Really.. many thanks for starting this up.
    This site is one thing that is required on the internet, someone with a little originality!

  • Construction Adhesives Market
    Posted at 15:57h, 26 May Reply

    Your style is very unique compared to other folks I have
    read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you have the opportunity,
    Guess I’ll just bookmark this blog.

  • best online product cuponscodediscont and ofers
    Posted at 16:42h, 26 May Reply

    Hello, this weekend is good for me, for the reason that this moment i am
    reading this great educational paragraph here aat my home.

    Take a lkok at my webpage – best online product cuponscodediscont and ofers

  • Hubert
    Posted at 16:44h, 26 May Reply

    It’s the best time to make a feww plans for the long
    run andd it’s time to be happy. I’ve read this submit and if I coulkd I wish to suggest you some attention-grabbing issues or advice.
    Perhaps you could write net articles regarding this article.
    I wish to read even more things aboutt it!

    My web blog: discover online shoppyng couponscodediscount annd offers (Hubert)

  • best online sopping couponskodesdiscount and ofers
    Posted at 17:11h, 26 May Reply

    Thhis excellent website certainly has all the information I
    wanted concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

    Chesck out my homepage … best online sopping couponskodesdiscount and ofers

  • Things to Do in Bloomington
    Posted at 17:20h, 26 May Reply

    Thank you for sharing with us, I think this website really stands out :D.

    Also visit my blog post; Things to Do in Bloomington

  • Data Center Rack Market
    Posted at 17:50h, 26 May Reply

    You’ve made some good points there. I checked on the web to find out more about the issue
    and found most people will go along with your views
    on this site.

  • Wastewater Treatment Plant Market
    Posted at 17:59h, 26 May Reply

    Good web site you have got here.. It’s hard to find quality writing like yours these days.
    I truly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

  • Http://
    Posted at 18:25h, 26 May Reply

    My brother suggested I might like this blog. He used to be totally
    right. This publish actually made my day. You can not consider just how
    so much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!

  • google web designer outputs a zip?
    Posted at 18:28h, 26 May Reply

    I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here.
    The sketch is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish.
    nonetheless, you command get bought an nervousness over that you wish be delivering the
    following. unwell unquestionably come more formerly again as exactly the
    same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this hike.

  • AI In Medical Imaging Market
    Posted at 18:48h, 26 May Reply

    What’s up to every one, the contents present at this web site are truly awesome for people knowledge,
    well, keep up the nice work fellows.

  • ql1
    Posted at 19:34h, 26 May Reply

    Hey there! Do you know if they make any plugins to safeguard against hackers?

    I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on. Any recommendations?

  • recommended site
    Posted at 20:27h, 26 May Reply

    Hi, yes this article is actually nice and I have learned
    lot of things from it regarding blogging.

  • مشاوره سئو
    Posted at 20:28h, 26 May Reply

    Excellent post. I absolutely appreciate this site. Stick with it!

  • check here
    Posted at 21:04h, 26 May Reply

    It’s not my first time to go to see this web page, i am browsing this site dailly and get pleasant data from here every day.

  • seo singapore
    Posted at 21:59h, 26 May Reply

    I am sure this piece of writing has touched all the internet visitors, its really
    really good piece of writing on building up new webpage.

    Review my site: seo singapore

  • tải app kingbet
    Posted at 00:12h, 27 May Reply

    It’s in point of fact a great and useful piece of information. I am satisfied that
    you shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us informed like this.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • เว็บเครดิตฟรี
    Posted at 00:40h, 27 May Reply

    Have you ever considered writing an ebook or guest authoring on other sites?
    I have a blog centered on the same topics you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my subscribers would enjoy your work.
    If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me
    an e-mail.

  • Snapchat server panel
    Posted at 02:57h, 27 May Reply

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems
    as though you relied on the video to make your point.
    You obviously know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting
    videos to your site when you could be giving us something
    informative to read?

  • just click for source
    Posted at 03:38h, 27 May Reply

    It’s very easy to find out any matter on net as compared
    to textbooks, as I found this article at this site.

  • Sexual Wellness Market
    Posted at 04:45h, 27 May Reply

    I’ve been exploring for a bit for any high-quality articles
    or weblog posts in this kind of space . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this site.
    Reading this information So i am happy to show that I have an incredibly good
    uncanny feeling I discovered exactly what I needed.

    I most indisputably will make sure to do not omit this website and provides it a glance on a continuing basis.

  • look at this web-site
    Posted at 05:02h, 27 May Reply

    Hello are using WordPress for your site platform?
    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started
    and set up my own. Do you require any html coding expertise to make your own blog?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  • Commercial Lawn Mowers Market
    Posted at 05:52h, 27 May Reply

    Everyone loves what you guys are usually up too.
    This type of clever work and coverage! Keep up the wonderful works guys I’ve you guys to blogroll.

  • Data center colocation market
    Posted at 05:55h, 27 May Reply

    Please let me know if you’re looking for a writer for your site.
    You have some really good posts and I think I would be a good asset.
    If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d absolutely love to write some material for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine.
    Please shoot me an e-mail if interested. Cheers!

  • free psp porno vids
    Posted at 06:02h, 27 May Reply

    Free porno adult free web cams porno free porno chat

  • free satellite cable tv sexy porno
    Posted at 06:29h, 27 May Reply

    Free porno adult free web cams porno free porno chat

  • security cameras calgary
    Posted at 10:15h, 27 May Reply

    My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and find nearly all of your post’s to be precisely what I’m looking for.

    Would you offer guest writers to write content for yourself?
    I wouldn’t mind creating a post or elaborating on a
    few of the subjects you write about here. Again, awesome blog!

  • he has a good point
    Posted at 13:15h, 27 May Reply

    Does your website have a contact page? I’m having problems
    locating it but, I’d like to send you an e-mail. I’ve got some creative ideas for your blog you might be
    interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing
    it develop over time.

  • https://school.wakehealth.edu/Faculty/A/Anthony-Atala?back=httpstechfablez.com
    Posted at 14:54h, 27 May Reply

    Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m inspired!
    Very helpful info specifically the ultimate phase 🙂 I
    care for such information much. I used to be seeking this particular info for
    a long time. Thanks and good luck.

1 60 61 62

Post A Comment