Fix it before it is broken is the key

Reactive fixing is not an ultimate solution to one of the main reasons projects fail, Anwar Omar explains.

COMMENT, Projects

Today's marketplace is running at a very high pace, where the growing local competition has had a considerable influence on many service organisations, prompting them to deliver to the customer high quality, with predictable high performance.

In order to meet this remarkably rapid growth across the regional construction industry, market needs must be addressed. So it is up to organisations to make the right decisions, exercise the right priorities and deliver service to a very high standard. Project management is therefore an integral part of the journey for all organisations; and excellence in project management is essential for business to continue growing and to avoid sudden failure.


People need to first plan out the project, then monitor and control the execution of their plan.

Successful projects are one of the key parameters for measuring the strength of the organisation. They are essential for ongoing business and healthy growth of the organisation. In most customer engagements or business situations, it is the successful project references that go a long way in securing more business.

You may have come across or read stories about the large number of projects that fail. As it is widely known, the majority of projects do not fail because of technical incompetence but often fall down due to poor and inadequate project management approaches.

Some of the reasons could be down to lack of understanding of the role of project management, insufficient commitment to project management activities and poor measurement criteria. In this and subsequent articles, briefings of some of the improper practices in project management are highlighted that obviously lead to delivery of projects being unsuccessful, whether that be in terms of quality of products or deliverables, staying on schedule, completing within budget, satisfying the client, leads for follow-on business, achieving success or having motivated team members.

Have you ever attended an end-of-project meeting for a project that had major problems? If you have, chances are that one of the major themes you heard was: ‘We should have spent more time in planning.' Many stakeholders think they need to jump right into the project by gathering business requirements. Planning is not only project schedule - as is believed by many people. It is the process of setting goals and determining the most effective way of reaching them.

Planning is one of the major processes in project management that can answer ‘what we need to do to manage the project'. The outcome of the planning process includes scope planning, cost planning and budgeting, quality planning, scheduling, qualitative and quantitative risk analysis, contracting procedure and ways of contracting (e.g. type of contract, whether PC sums or nominations are required, resource planning such as sub-contracting, rent, buy or lease for equipments, etc). Before the actual work of the project begins, companies must spend time defining the project objectives, scope, assumptions, risks, budget, cash flow, constraints, timeline, organisation and the overall approach before jumping to the execution phase.

People need to first plan out the project and then monitor and control the execution of their plan; this will assist in avoiding moving in the dark. Some organisations do not spend sufficient time and effort on planning and controlling projects.

Consequently, their style of project management is ‘reactive fixing' rather than ‘proactive prevention'.

The following adage supports this argument: "Prior proper planning prevents poor performance. Front-end planning, together with trend analysis, will generate a ‘no surprises' environment. If you cannot measure it, you cannot control it; if you cannot control it you obviously cannot manage it."

Project managers should adopt an organisational process in terms of project management and planning methodologies (if any), or otherwise possess the necessary interpersonal and intrapersonal skills that can enhance the opportunities of success together with eliminating chances of failure.

To achieve organisational competence, companies need a unified approach to align and strengthen the diverse approaches to project management that currently exist. To support this argument, you can see two separate projects by the same firm handled in very different fashions, with the results being considerably different.

It should be understood that project management follows Pareto rule, which essentially states that 80% of a project's outcome is determined by only 20% of its requirement.

If the project management team successfully draws attention to the right issues (certainly not alike and depending on the particular situation), the project will be completed successfully. Otherwise, clients receive their projects late, while contractors incur overhead and site costs for which they are not reimbursed.

All parties therefore incur loss. It is evident that the major factor directly influencing project success is the quality and depth of early planning by the project management team.

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