On my husband's second day at a new job, he was assigned to a large engineering project. When he returned from the project meeting, a witty colleague sauntered over to his desk and said, "Just so you know, you're already behind schedule and over budget."
Completing projects on time and within budget is a universal challenge. CIOs queried in the latest Harvey Nash/KPMG report said that, on average, only 69 percent of their companies' projects are delivered on time; 11 percent said less than 25 percent of their companies' projects were on time. Further, only about half of the respondents said their firm's projects come in under budget.
This is nothing new, according to Booz Allen Hamilton senior vice president Mike McKeon. Particularly with IT projects, "There are always challenges to being on time and under budget," he says.
The biggest challenge to successful projects, according to respondents to the Harvey Nash/KPMG survey, is "poorly defined scope/requirements," which was cited by 49 percent of participants. (The next biggest problem, "poor project management," was chosen by only 9 percent.)
Poorly defined scope and requirements are not just the fault of the business side, McKeon asserts. "There's a joint obligation on the part of the business guys to work with the technology folks," he says -- it's a challenge because the two sides often speak different languages. "A good project management office can improve the situation," McKeon says.
Whiteboard software (for sharing ideas), business process management software, knowledge management software and document management software all can help with the communication of business requirements and building prototypes, according to McKeon. Ultimately, however, it all comes down to skill at collaborating and communicating, he says, areas in which a PMO can help.