In any project, the initiation phase is filled with optimistic budgets, benefits, and manageable risks. But the following statistics from the Project Management Institute might make project managers rethink that optimism:
- 35% of projects were deemed failures, and the budgets are written off
- 45% of projects failed to deliver on schedule
- 27% of projects failed to deliver the promised benefits after delivery
Kudos to you if you consistently deliver on time and budget while hitting all the outlined benchmarks. But you’re in the minority. For those on the crowded side of the equation, consider the amount of due diligence and buy-in you received in the initiation phase. Chances are that your project either didn’t have the data necessary to get buy-in or you based assumptions on faulty data.
To overcome project management challenges and to increase the probability of success, project sponsors should get the approval of key stakeholders early using the best possible data. And an InnovationOps approach will position them to do just that. Let’s explore ways project managers should approach budget, benefits and assets projections and how InnovationOps gives them the information to do so accurately.
For every significant budget line, you need to apply a confidence rating to gauge the due diligence and research for cost estimates, which include:
- Quotes from a vetted supplier
- Actuals from a prior project
- Discussions with suppliers
- Direct prior experience
It’s essential to get the internal auditing team on board early. Have them ask the tough questions and carefully review the assumptions and details with them. It may be unpleasant but getting their sign-off in the initiation phase means the audit team will be on your side throughout the project—a huge win.
Once market fit and revenue vetting are complete, it’s essential to review the feasibility of the project. The P&L owner should be able to address two questions. First, do they have the necessary resources to deliver the proposed benefits? And second, do they have the features, functions, capabilities, etc., that customers signed up for in the study? If both questions are answered “yes,” you can move on to the next step.
Now, you can more confidently look at the plan necessary to move forward with the project. The assets include schedules, resource staffing and risk.
- Schedules: Once key deliverables are identified, develop a schedule that provides a clear path to completion. Each schedule should be assessed with a confidence factor that should fall within a range determined by the specific nuances of the project. IE: Is it an extension of an existing product or radical innovation?
- Resource staffing: This should include internal resource availability, resources from external providers, named resources and unnamed resources.
Risk: Review the risk register and determine if risks are tied to critical tasks and milestones. It’s also important to ensure the risk register reflects all of the ‘known unknowns’
InnovationOps helps with initiation phase challenges
An InnovationOps approach is a relatively simple concept: bring together the people and processes with innovation jobs to be done to ensure a repeatable and scalable process. The key to doing just that is removing information and collaboration silos. So how does InnovationOps help us in the initiation phase of a project? It liberates the information necessary to vet the project and get the required sign-off on the budget, plans and resources.
With the proper project management tools, project managers can easily access the data they need to vet projects or determine if more due diligence is necessary before moving forward. Real-time updates are possible in an InnovationOps approach, which bodes well for project managers. Having the most up-to-date information can produce accurate confidence ratings along with past data.
Educated guesses are antiquated and problematic. The data project managers need to make the most accurate decisions exist when an InnovationOps culture is combined with project management tools. To learn more about bolstering the initiation phase, watch this Sopheon Mastering InnovationOps series webinar, and check out this handy project management checklist.