The reason that most projects fail is because nobody has any real visibility into all the dependencies associated with any given set of existing or proposed processes.
In fact, what usually happens is that a project is kicked off without any thought to mapping out those dependencies in a way that all the participants can understand. The end result is that each individual group tries to surmount their own set of challenges with little regard to the priorities and issues that other members of the team might face. Inevitably, someone gets surprised by discovering that some key enabling component for their part of the project is not going to be delivered on time, resulting in a waste of time that could have been put to good use elsewhere if only they had known that key enabling component for the project was going to be delayed.
No amount of software and technology can make up for bad management. But without collaborative capabilities inside a project management application, it's almost certain that the project is going to be doomed. To help address this issue, Hewlett-Packard is adding real-time support to version 9.1 of its HP Project Portfolio and Management (PPM) software. Every time there is a change to a project status, an alert is sent to the Executive Dashboard and Financial Planning modules within the HP PPM environment. This approach means that everybody can immediately ascertain the impact of the change, and most importantly, the financial implications.
Bruce Randall, product marketing for HP PPM, notes that as projects become more complex, the software to manage the project becomes a lot more strategic to the overall business. The challenge, he says, has been finding a way to turn project management software into a tool that provides the communications framework for sharing information about the project, rather than just serving as a repository for data that only the actual project manager ever consults.
Obviously, people are not always anxious to share bad news with everybody on the team. As project management software evolves, it will become a mechanism through which everybody can stay updated on the status of any given project without having to attend numerous meetings or start long convoluted e-mail threads. Instead, meetings might actually be about what to do to speed the project along, versus spending the entire meeting just trying to understand what actually happened.
That may go against the grain of organizational behavior. But it's also clear that companies that fundamentally collaborate better are more competitive. Obviously, new software isn't going to solve all your internal management issues, but it might turn out to be a very good place to get started.