Is the project duration related to its success rate?
Based on the industry and product, projects have corresponding timelines. Although project managers may consider short project durations, with an added component of risk and time pressure, to be a disadvantage, here is something to consider. According to Jim Johnson of the Standish Group, the results of a study of over 23,000 projects found that the probability of project success dropped as the project duration increased. As the chart illustrates, projects of 6 months or shorter time length had dramatically larger chances of success as compared to projects that took fifteen months or more to complete. In fact, the success rate dropped from 55% for 6-month projects, to 8% success rate for a 2-year project. What is the cause of this decreased success rate?
Project success is closely aligned with customer satisfaction. One factor that influences customer satisfaction is speed to market. Longer project lengths increase the risk that a competitor will gain a market edge. Further, the longer the length of a project, the more likely are the chances that stakeholders may lose interest in the project/product. Given the rapidly changing technologies, especially in the electronics industry, it becomes imperative to maintain shorter time lengths to have a product that is in line with consumer demands and competitive technologies. Here are examples of the impact of technology changes on product demand:
iPhone: Apple is releasing significant updates or changes to their product every 6-12 months. New apps, versions, and updates are constantly being developed and tested. Given the competition, if a phone/app is late to market, sales may drop considerably. Apple has been very agile in its research and product development as inflexible solutions would have lead to product delays, which would have been disastrous for their sales and customer loyalty.
Playstation 3 (PS3): Had Sony been able to launch PS3 in the 6-month time frame as originally planned, the company would have been able to benefit from speed-to-market and enjoyed the benefits of the shorter timeline. The 2-year delay resulted in a 94% drop in their quarterly profits in 2006. Among other factors, Sony stated that �its profit deterioration was due to recording of charges associated with the preparation of launch of the PlayStation 3 platform and the continued high research and development costs associated with the PS3�" (see Sony article).
Given the market focus on new and improved products, the stockholder�s interest in quarterly numbers, and the short attention spans and changing priorities of the management and consumers, projects with time lengths of less than 6 months are encouraged. This will greatly increase the chances of project success.
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Consider Maslow�s Hierarchy of Needs!
Currently, the economic temperature is gradually rising in a number of regions, hiring is resuming, projects are starting to get funded, and the business outlook, on the whole, seems to be getting brighter. While this change is hopeful, there are many who remain unemployed (9.2% as of June 2011) or underemployed. There are millions more who haven�t been promoted, or have held onto positions they've outgrown, waiting for the economy to change. As a business leader and manager of projects large and small, this presents a motivational challenge: how do you motivate your team to stay inspired about their work, and their positions, while the company struggles to move forward in the current market. Consider the following:
- Contribute to the self-esteem and self-actualization needs of the project team members through good planning and team development (Use the Maslow�s Hierarchy of Needs to identify your project team member needs)
- With respect to self-esteem, good managers need to make sure that their team�s achievements are recognized. Acknowledge team members by remembering to thank them for contributing ideas, time and energy to the success of the project and to the good of the greater organization (Research has shown that personal thank you�s and words of praise and encouragement, can often be as equally effective as a raise or promotion)
- With self-actualization, project managers should provide their team members with challenges and opportunities to reach their ultimate career satisfaction. Remember to develop your team as often as you develop your products and services. While marketing is necessary to engage with clients and customers, a project manager may also consider doing a little internal �PR� with and for team members. In quick and relatively easy ways, a PM:
- Can remind team members to consider their original motivation to work on the project.
- May mention positive project / company / industry news in project meetings or memos.
- May build team relations by scheduling short, 1-on-1 visits with team members to encourage candid opinions and feedback.
Learn more: Attend our workshop, �Aligning Your Career with Your Life Goals� Workshop
Rejuvenate: Use the summer heat to steam up your career
- Luke Luckett, PMP
As the economy improves and the hiring picks up especially, in the project management field are you �summer cleansing� your career (goals)? As a project or program manager, are you doing the kind of work that inspires you? Are you leading your team in the most fun and inspiring way? This August, ask yourself if your current project and/or your day-to-day task list is contributing to the success of your career, team, and ultimately, your company. If you are having problems establishing or reevaluating your career goals:
- Try keeping a journal or reviewing your �aha� moments of the recent past. Do this every day for one month � and then review your notes. You may be surprised by what you find.
- If you see positive patterns and these patterns are aligned to your career goals, celebrate!
- If you notice positive patterns that do not align to your career goals, consider realigning your goals with your current successes.
- If you notice negative patterns that do not align with your hopes, dreams, and aspirations, it is time for reevaluation of your current position.
- Try scheduling a meeting with a mentor. Remind them of what you have been doing, and where you would like to be in a few years. An interested, but not �invested� ear can often point you in the best direction.
- Keep an eye on the market. Look for market trends by reading journals, industry websites and newsletters (like this one!) and employment sites. Read the PM Journal, PM Network Magazine, and visit the PMI websites to seek clarity on current trends in project management.
- Network, Network, Network! Talking to fellow project managers and people from your industry will provide you with information that is current and helpful. Keep your eyes and ears open, both for yourself and your professional acquaintances so that you exchange ideas in a meaningful, educated way.
Did this work for you? Please share your experience with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Medhira Enterprises helps project managers with career consulting & training services � let us know what we can do for you!
For everyone who has ever had an evaluation - just remember, it could have been worse. These are actual quotes taken from Federal Government employee performance evaluations.
1. "Since my last report, this employee has reached rock-bottom and has started to dig."
2. "Takes him 2 hours to watch '60-minutes'."
3. "This employee is really not so much of a has-been, but more of definite won't be."
4. "Works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap."
5. "When she opens her mouth, it seems that it is only to change feet."
6. �If you give him a penny for his thoughts, you'd get change."
7. "This young lady has delusions of adequacy."
8. "He sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them."
9. "This employee is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot."
10. "This employee should go far, and the sooner he starts, the better."
11. "Got a full 6-pack, but lacks the plastic thingy to hold it all together."
12. "If you stand close enough to him, you can hear the ocean."
13. "He doesn't have ulcers, but he's a carrier.
14. "I would like to go hunting with him sometime."
15. "He's been working with glue too much."
16. "He would argue with a signpost."
17. "He brings a lot of joy whenever he leaves the room."
18. "When his IQ reaches 50, he should sell."
19. "If you see two people talking and one looks bored, he's the other one."
20. "A photographic memory but with the lens cover glued on."
21. "Some drink from the fountain of knowledge; he only gargled."
22. "Donated his brain to science before he was done using it."
23. "Gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train isn't coming."
24. "He's got two brains cells, one is lost and the other is out looking for it."
25. "If he were any more stupid, he'd have to be watered twice a week."