Friday, November 27, 2020

Managing projects

Many studies have revealed that the failure rate of projects in different fields far exceeds the success rate. The studies had assigned the reasons to poor feasibility studies, bad requirements gathering, lopsided business analysis, inadequate and inappropriate process implementation across various knowledge areas, under groomed or irresponsible sponsors, project leaders and project managers, poorly researched assumptions, pseudo constraints, poor risk management, lack of proper and organized documentation of project plans, etc, etc. The list is unending. So there is always a probability of projects not achieving their set objectives, if project management principles are not rigorously applied. The failure might manifest in terms of loss of investment, create grey areas in end user satisfaction levels, collateral damage to environment and delayed accomplishment of projects with socio-cultural implications and so on. On top of it, the biggest negligence happens when at the outset of almost all Government projects no emphasis is laid on defining and jotting down of criteria for measuring their success or failure. And this is the sad story of almost all projects undertaken in our State over the past many years. We are aware that most Central Government projects in Nagaland have meet an eventual dead end, leaving the beneficiaries at large. Often, there is no mechanism to gauge either the success or failure of a project at its completion. Besides most projects are abandoned halfway! And in the Government sector this leads to blame game phenomenon that are unprecedented. The mightier and dominant groups that include all powerful and decisive political executive and administrative adages of bureaucracy as sponsors start blaming the weaker and less privileged and benign entities like performing organizations, more often axe falling on individuals that often belong to sub-ordinate departments. Nice work done by these individuals draws flak in absence of a robust project management system. This breeds peer hatred and inefficiency among all rank and file. Dampening of enthusiastic and entrepreneurial management spirit follows, that leads to under performance. Sometimes uncalled for investigative trials of officers and officials, without much need for the same, becomes the easiest and usual way of looking for monetary losses. Had there been in place a system of project management, a smooth passage to successful projects that would score high on savings in investment, meeting up the laid down objectives, correct reflection of requirements, required grades in quality, and better productivity and efficiency of men and material would have been attained. In fact cost savings, time savings and end user satisfaction could be easily achieved if Government spending is made subservient to modern and organized project management. This means for every Rs 1000 crore spent we may save somewhere from Rs 100 crore to even Rs 200 crores that can help our cash starved State to invest in other useful projects as well. The need is everybody in the chain from political executive to grassroots level worker must learn to ask: What? Why? When? Where? And how? This is what project management is all about. But this is not simple enough to achieve. We may have to change the system. We may need to train and educate one and all in the chain. Training, mentoring, coaching, learning, implementing and recording lessons learnt for future use. This is how it can happen. Government has to have a review of present system of spending on projects, at both politico-bureaucratic levels, sub-ordinate department levels and third party assessment levels. In this may lie the great answers to our State spending wisely. Project management is synonymous with wisdom. But we cannot expect complete wisdom from every individual. So what if all available wisdom derived from experience of world wide practitioners is put into template form and these are made as guidelines for implementing projects? Yes, the preventive and anticipatory methodologies are considered far more beneficial than corrective and employee bashing approaches that only drain funds, generate bad will and leave little scope for better results.