5 reasons traditional project management is broken: part 1

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Traditional project management processes are failing left and right. This post investigates the first two reasons why.

Your project management process is broken. Your team is working overtime, you can’t stop chasing updates, and your boss is constantly hounding you for another project report.

If this describes you, you’re one amongst many. Workers everywhere are stressed to the max and organisations are suffering. In fact, in the UK, it’s a combination of wasteful meetings (60%), unexpected phone calls (44%), lack of collaboration (28%), excessive emails (55%) and excessive oversight (30%) that is keeping UK enterprise teams from getting their work done. What’s more, 36% of UK enterprise workers reported that this disruption resulted in lost productivity, 35% reported low morale and high staff turnover, and 28% reported missed deadlines.1

It’s not surprising that we’re seeing this type of response. Today’s worker is flooded with information (usually to the point of incapacitation) and most people don’t have the right process to deal with all the project requests, report data, disconnected tools, and schedule insanity.

How can we fix this madness? How can we get back on track, be more productive, and be better project managers, leaders, and champions? First, we need to identify the problems with our current process. What’s wrong today? In this post, we’ll cover the first two problems with your current project management process:

1. You don't know how to handle ad hoc requests

Fly-by requests come from everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Your boss wants this report by five. Your peer needs you to quickly review something “just really, really, fast.” And your inbox is exploding from the insane amount of email requests that are piling on top of the requests from yesterday, and last week, and last month. Sound familiar?

Ad hoc requests are too often overlooked in a project management process. But today’s IT organisations claim that they spend 45% to 55% of their time on unplanned work. While many workers can only realistically focus on one task at a time, this unplanned work can unintentionally derail all types of projects.

Need more proof that ad hoc work is a major disruption? The average worker is interrupted 50 to 60 times every day. That’s one interruption every 8 minutes or 7 interruptions per hour. Every interruption lasts (on average) fives minutes, which can add up to 50% of the average worker’s workday. It sounds like it’s not just IT organisations that are spending half of their day on unplanned work.

2. You can't see what your team is working on

You know your project management process is broken if you and your team are spending half the day on unplanned work. But do you really know what everyone is working on to begin with? In Workfront’s recent UK study, 72% of the enterprise workers reported that they felt confused about what other members of their team were working on.1

When you can’t see what your team is working on, you spend hours and hours chasing updates so you can spend more time compiling reports for stakeholders. Fun! In fact, it’s reported that project managers spend up to 12 hours every week building reports. And the report data? It comes from hundreds of hours in meetings every month.

Even the simple act of managing time can disrupt the overarching need for project visibility. The average person uses 13 (that’s 13) different methods to attempt some type of control over his/her time. How can you expect to see what everyone else is doing if you’re using 13 (THIRTEEN) different methods for managing your own time and your own projects? It’s an uphill battle that seems impossible to climb.

From the sound of it, project management is tiptoeing on the doorstep to despair. Stay tuned for the next post in this series and we’ll cover three more ways you can identify a problem in your project management process.

In the meantime, find out what your peers are doing in a recent whitepaper that reveals the Secrets of 40 PPM Experts on Changing Project Management to Project Leadership. It details 40 great lessons you can incorporate into your project management process to elevate your approach to that of a project leader.

This blog is written and sponsored by Workfront.


1 Source: “UK State of Enterprise Work 2014 Reort.” 1,007 UK respondents, Workfront Inc. 2014

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Posted by Shawn Dickerson on 10th Mar 2015

About the Author
Shawn has over 15 years of experience managing enterprise projects for Fortune 1000 companies, venture-backed firms and small startups. In his current role, he oversees the go-to-market strategy for the Enterprise Solutions Group at Workfront, including working with IT organizations, professional services teams, and other enterprise groups to solve their most pressing work management challenges. Prior to Workfront, Shawn led marketing and project teams at Domo, Novell and other tech companies.

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