Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Projects are a Wager

Last night, the PMI Silicon Valley chapter evening program topic Avoiding Project Failure & Risk Management by Payson Hall gave some great insights on the commonalities between projects and gambling. The main connection is that you CANNOT predict the future, no matter how much planning you do or information you think you have to help you, so there is always some risk involved.

There are no FACTS about the future, only expectations and assumptions.

With projects, an organization wagers X resources to achieve Y results by Z date. Risk analysis allows project managers to continue a project based on credible estimates of project costs, benefits, schedule and risks. All projects have risk because risk cannot be eliminated.

Any project can fail, regardless of the pressure that may be brought to bear on the project success. In fact, there's an official name for projects that have for all intents and purposes have failed, but they still keep lumbering on because of political or other pressures: Zombie Projects. I had always called these projects Death Marches, but Zombies works for me too.

I liked how Payson addressed the my that Every Requested Project is Possible.
Plenty of project team members try to turn themselves inside out to accomplished what's asked of them without anyone doing the analysis of whether the project is a good idea or even doable. At least in the way requested. Let alone, think about the consequences of failure. Especially after hundreds or thousands of people hours have been spent, let alone $$s or other resources.

All in all, Payson Hall's talk on the calcualated gamble of project management was a different spin on risk management. And a new perspective for me.

No comments: