How to Avoid Project Failure: Effective Scheduling

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project-failureBenjamin Franklin once said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. Diligent planning is essential for any success in business. This is particularly true for projects, especially complex ones with many stakeholders, dependencies and tight deadlines.

When tracking multiple projects, it is all too easy to lose focus and the overview of important milestones. The result is chaos.

When You Stop Controlling Deadlines, They Start Controlling You

According to a study by McKinsey & Company at Oxford University covering 5,400 large-scale IT projects, large projects run 45% over budget and 7% over time and deliver 56% less value than expected, with 17% of projects going so badly that they threaten the existence of the company.

Why Projects Fail

The natural question is: Why do so many projects fail – despite the best intentions of stakeholders?

Poor project planning and scope creep are on the top of the list of reasons for project failure. Project managers either do not have an overview of all the tasks and milestones or changes are made to the schedule which were not accounted before the start of the project. Among the top 10 reasons why projects fail are also insufficient communication and ineffective management.

Without clear communication of goals and objectives to all project members, important deadlines and other project information are simply lost. The result is confusion and chaos.

What Do All of These Reasons for Project Failure Have in Common?

Projects fail when project managers do not have a clear overview or visualization of their project. They need to fully understand the different tasks and steps necessary to successfully complete a project.

Avoid project failure by having a clear overview of the project stages and a clear, central exchange of information.

How Do I Avoid Project Failure? One Strategy Is to Use a Project Management Software

Project management software is a great way to not only document but also plan and review projects. In a 2014 survey conducted by InformationWeek, 53% of respondents said they used project management software to keep on top of their projects’ progress.

An important aspect of project management software is the ability to display Gantt charts to visualize and track a project’s progress. Humans are visual creatures. About 90% of the information we process is visual. Therefore, Gantt charts provide a great way to visualize the deadlines and relationships of project tasks.

OpenProject - logoGantt Charts in OpenProject

OpenProject is a leading web-based open source project management software tool. Among many other features (such as issue tracking / management, time & cost tracking and meeting organization), it allows users to easily create timeline reports / Gantt charts.

In addition, users can automatically show the differences in planning between the current version and the original state in planning. Vertical planning elements can be displayed to signify blocking elements (e.g. vacation, server maintenance) across the entire task spectrum. In order to display the progress of complex project hierarchies, OpenProject allows users to display Gantt charts of multiple projects in a single, central project. This provides a very easy way to show the progress of multiple projects in one place. – A great way to provide managers with a dashboard overview of multiple projects.

OPEN_PROJECT_CHART

To End

To learn more about this and other OpenProject features, take a look at the OpenProject website page or check out our OpenProject software review.

Birthe Lindenthal

Birthe Lindenthal

Birthe is chairperson of the OpenProject Foundation's (OPF) Board of Directors. The foundation governs and gives guidance to the open source project OpenProject - a web-based project management software. She’s enthusiastic about free and open source software and the way an open source community jointly contributes to a project. She's been working with OpenProject since 2009 and is doing community support and actively coaching and teaching project teams to work with the software.

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