The real risks of projects

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Posted by APM on 1st Oct 2010

Some 60 members enjoyed the opportunity to network over a buffet and refreshments at BAWA, Filton, Bristol. This well attended, entertaining and  informative event explored the question why do traditional approaches to risk often miss the really important risks, those which can close a project.

The key note speaker was Paul Naybour from Parallel Project Training who, as regular attendees will know likes to encourage audience participation.  Tonight was no exception, and after introductions the audience was split in to groups to look at one of 4 case studies: Orlyval, Wembley Stadium, the Eden Project, and the Dartford second crossing. The groups were asked: what, if anything went wrong? Recommendations for future projects? and who should implement those recommendations?

Paul began the presentation with a review of earned value management principles, benefits and the implementation processes to the business. Several case studies were reviewed of organisations who have adopted EVM, the benefits they had experienced from the introduction of EVM and the barriers they have experienced plus identified the critical enablers of successful EVM implementation.

Paul began by explaining the fundamentals of earned value management and the  significant benefits to the business and project managers which include:

  • An integrated system to measure cost and schedule performance
  • The ability to measure efficiency and progress towards the project goals
  • Ability to quickly identify underperforming work packages and instigate corrective actions
  • Accurate forecasting of outturn cost and time

Despite these valuable benefits earned value management is not widely adopted by project managers. The key question is, why not?

Paul explained the project management maturity model and the associated maturity levels. The model is based on existing business models such as the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) and the Business Excellence Model from the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM).

Paul discussed the project maturity model and described the four levels of increasing project management capability, termed as nave, novice, normalised and natural. These stages are related to developing, implementing and sustaining the earned value management maturity plan. The key stages of this plan are as follows:

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