Article Review Why Good Projects Fail Anyway

Article Review: Why Good Projects Fail Anyway
Projects are mainly initiated to exploit some new opportunities or solve
some problems that the organization could be facing. However, many
projects fail to deliver in terms of quality, time, and cost. Factors
that result in project failure can be traced and be found in all stages
starting from the planning phase, implementation, and evaluation phases
(Oracle Corporation, 2011). Different researchers have attributed the
increasing rate of project failure to varying reasons, but with some
similarities at some points. This paper is a review of the article
“Why good projects fail anyway,” written by Matta & Ashkenas (2003).
The authors identified three major factors that contribute to project
failure and classified them as white space, execution problems, and
integration challenges. In addition, the authors suggested the
rapid-result initiative as the most viable solution to these challenges.
According to Matta & Ashkenas (2003) the project planning team may make
the initial mistake by failing to identify all activities that will be
required for completion of the project. This creates the emergence of
surprise during the subsequent phases especially the implementation
stage. Although this claim may be correct, the authors failed to address
the underlying cause of white space challenges. Oracle Corporation
(2011) identified that the determination of the project goals and
objectives before staring the planning and implementation prevents
project cancellation and the need for major corrections. Secondly, Matta
& Ashkenas (2003) attributes project failure to improper execution by
the project management teams. This is a significant observation because
project teams bear the greatest responsibility and their competence can
determine the success or failure of the project. This suggestion is
similar to the findings of Varma (2013) who identified that failure of
the project manager and the team to take the project ownership reduces
probability of the project implementation to succeed. Third, Matta &
Ashkenas (2003) identified that flow less execution of tasks reduces the
capacity of the project to deliver the anticipated results. This is a
management problem, which fails to play its role of organizing and
coordinating tasks during the implementation phase.
The use of rapid-results initiative to reduce project failure as
proposed by Matta & Ashkenas (2003) may be a viable solution, but it
acts as a correction of mistakes that can be avoided in the presence of
effective planning and responsible managers. Matta & Ashkenas (2003) put
more emphasis on the accountability of project management teams, but the
top executives should take part in all phases of project from planning
phase until its completion. According to Mind Tools Limited (2013)
suggested that the top management acts as project sponsors who
identified the need for the project and retain the commitment to ensure
that the change happens. This implies that the organization management
should guide the project management team to ensure that they deliver
expected quality and the planned cost.
In conclusion, effective project management requires the prior setting
of objectives, adequate planning, and involvement of the executive in
all phases of project planning and implementation. Setting objectives
for the project and adequate planning reduces the occurrence of white
space while active participation of the top management ensures the
proper organization and coordination of tasks, thus avoiding confused
flow of activities. The use of rapid-result initiative may be an
effective correction approach in case the organization failed at the
planning stage. However, the significance of its use can be reduced by
identifying all the necessary tasks at planning stage, which will help
the management to cost account for the project more accurately, thus
avoiding major surprises.
Matta, F. & Ashkenas, N. (2003). Why good projects fail anyway. Boston:
Harvard Business Review.
Mind Tools Limited (2013). Why do projects fail? Learn how to avoid
project failure. Mind Tools Limited. Retrieved October 26, 2013, from
Oracle Corporation (2011). Why projects fail: Avoid the class pitfalls.
Redwood Shores: Oracle Corporation.
Varma, R. (2013). Why projects fail. Burnaby. Calleam Consulting
Limited. Retrieved October 26, 2013, from HYPERLINK

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