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Refocusing Projects onto Business Value, Part I: The Need

Refocusing Projects onto Business Value, Part I: The Need

Projects fail because most of the standard approaches don’t focus on value delivery

When less than 5 percent of projects fully deliver all of their value, it's easy to see why there is such a high level of frustration with the loss of value from projects

What percentage of projects achieve the trifecta? All of the business outcomes, all of the value, on time and budget? The answer is less than 5 percent.

Or, to put it the other way, more than 95 percent of your projects will fail on one or more of these dimensions. Why?

Projects lose value because most of the standard project-delivery approaches don't focus on value delivery. Worse, many of these approaches inadvertently miss, lose, or destroy more value than they deliver.

Projects traditionally focus on the project outputs. These outputs are often listed in the business case together with their benefits and value, under the assumption that delivery of the project outputs will enable delivery of the value. But it won't.

This assumption leaves a gap between the project's outputs and what is required to deliver the value, and business staff are often too busy to identify, plan, and deliver unspecified business outcomes in order to get to the benefits and value. More work is required in the business if the benefits and value are to be realized.

The standard approach leaves "The Value Gap"

What happens traditionally is that once the project is finished, the business tries to realize the promised value from the project's outputs (eg by sacking x staff) and hope that everything will sort itself out.

The trouble with this approach is that what often happens is that the workload on the remaining staff increases; quality is compromised, operational costs increase in other processes, and the nett business value realized is reduced as a result of an overall increase in ongoing costs.

So, when less than 5 percent of projects fully deliver all of their value, we can see why there is such a high level of frustration with the loss of value from projects.

So, since value delivery is not standard, but value loss is standard, it follows that something must be wrong with how we deliver projects. Hence the need for a new, value delivery management approach.

To move from 'project delivery' to 'value delivery' you need to

  • Fill the gaps in the current processes.
  • Challenge traditional thinking about projects and standard delivery processes.
  • Refocus key dimensions of project-delivery onto value delivery.
It's not that all project delivery processes are wrong and should be discarded. For example, defining 'work breakdown structures' will still take place as always, but the 'work' being broken down will be different. It will be more value-focused.

How this is done will be explained in the subsequent articles.



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