The ultimate recipe for project success – does it even exist? Can a project’s failure really be controlled and avoided? Or is it basically part of the game? Ralf Mock is an expert in professional project management. In this interview, he explains the main reasons for project failure, how managers should react and which steps might avoid project failure in the future.
Ralf Mock operates since 2016 as Executive Search Partner of Meyer & Söhne GmbH.
Previously, he worked for Linde AG in various and was appointed as Member of the Board of Villeroy & Boch AG where he was globally responsible for the Tableware Division. Afterwards, he took over the responsibility as Senior Vice President Europe Middle East Africa, based in London, for the US-group Hyster Yale Inc., a leading manufacturer of material handling equipment.
But how? From Reasons to Reactions…
Mr. Mock, what do you think are the main reasons for project failure?
The lack of top management involvement to enforce objectives and the importance of the project are some of the major reasons for project failure. Unrealistic timing, capacity and budget as well as an inconsequent follow up of the project progress are further issues. If the milestones are not properly defined in detail and critically reviewed the project implementation gets out of sync.
How can project leaders identify the first signs of failure?
Project leaders need a proper dashboard and regular reviews with all required stakeholders on board to be on top of the project and to identify the shortcomings.
How should they react?
Openness and honesty about critical issues are vital. Successes need to be highlighted and shortcomings addressed to define corrective actions. In case of repetitive failure, the originators have to be confronted with the issues and if necessary, replaced in case additional support does not help.
What’s next? After the project’s failure…
What about the final decision? Which figures confirm the project’s failure?
The major topic is the identification of delays that prevent the achievement of the milestone objectives. Besides missing the timeline, figures like i.e. lack of realization of cost saving potential support the decision.
How to inform the project team? Do you have some tips how to avoid less encouragement of your employees?
The presence of top management can be a motivating factor in combination of their in-depth knowledge of the project status. There also needs to be the openness to accept non avoidable shortcomings as well as the provision of additional resources in case they are required.
New projects will follow – which steps might avoid project failure in the future?
It is always helpful to review a project after finalization and to define the points that went well and those that did not work out well. These findings will help for the next project if reviewed in advance.