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How do organizations distinguish between the risk of the project not delivering and the risk of it not succeeding?

In risk management Risk | 5 comments

To what extent does your organization focus on the delivery of the project to the detriment of the delivery of the benefits? How can you manage these two elements sympathetically?


  • Omar Zein
    By Omar Zein

    Jonathan. This is an intriguing issue which I repeatedly face with many of my clients. There is always a tendency to over emphasise product delivery to the demise of benefits; and surprisingly, "vice-versa" is sometimes true (Some organisations get so focused on the benefit that they lose track of direct products' deliverables compromising in return the very benefits they over-emphasised).
    As far as methodologies and tools aiming to help reach a balanced emphasis on products and benefits, we already have many which do an excellent job (MSP of the OGC is an excellent example). However, by themselves they are insufficient as there is another strong factor influencing such balance; Culture.
    Some cultures are inclined to place higher emphasis on benefits, while others, on products; often to an unbalanced extent. There are more than one cultural factor (orientation) that mark such influence, however, non as much as “time orientation”.
    Short-term oriented cultures are far more likely to emphasise product delivery over benefit. Two main reasons for their doing so are:
    1- Strategy in short-term oriented cultures is “short-term” itself as compared to those of longer-term oriented cultures, resulting in a tendency to evaluate success on more immediate results and therefore on product delivery as opposed to longer term benefits.
    2- There is a far faster role turnover in short-term cultures as compared to longer-term cultures (both internally and externally to an organisation). As such, the career progress of employees including managers at all levels are assessed more frequently and as a result, the managers aim to achieve shorter term results, shifting the emphasis away from benefits.
    There are other reasons no doubt. The above two however, I continue to repeatedly witness in my role as external consultant.

  • Federico Minelle
    By Federico Minelle

    According to up-to-date literature (e.g. OGC "Prince2 methodology" TM, Lloyd or Pica recent books both issued by Gower), only when success indicators were preliminarly stated and the relevant "business case" repeatedly checked along project/product lyfecycle.
    Among these indicators, financial ones must be included, of course, but key factors are the "not monetary" quantitative ones, aligned to Company's strategic issues.
    Is this approach frequently applied ? very seldom, unfortunately (at least in my professional experience)!

  • Jonathan Norman
    By Jonathan Norman

    Federico makes an interesting point. I'd be very interested to hear from different organizations as to how effectively they identify non-financial indicators and how they subsequently revisit these throughout the life of the project.

  • Federico Minelle
    By Federico Minelle

    see "Project Life Cycle Economics- Cost Estimation, Management and Effectiveness in Construction Projects" edited by Massimo Pica, Gower 2015.
    Appendix 4 "Impact analysis at project closeout and during product life cycle, Project evaluation through Impact Analysis methods: an example" by F. Minelle, F. Stolfi
    The example method was applied to an ICT Governmental program (e-government)

  • Federico Minelle
    By Federico Minelle

    1. do an initial cost/benefit analysis (business case), focused on stakeholder values (measurable Key Success Indicators): performance is project related, while success is stakeholder values related
    2. apply an ongoing review of business case, involving selected stakeholders: this is the driver for project path adjustment
    3. do a post-mortem review, at an appropriate time after project delivery , comparing planned and actual KSI
    4. adjust, if possible, present project or at least, learn for the next one

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