Bottom line, none of us are perfect and to quote a favorite expression of mine about ‘failure’ – if we are not making mistakes we are not taking risks and definitely not learning anything.
Sometimes projects go buttery smooth with everything falling into time and place EXACTLY as planned. However, more often than not, we hit speed bumps along the journey and from time to time even project failures.
It’s how you react to the failure that marks you out as the professional. Here’s some advice on how to make that failure into a win..
Speak wisely about project failure & be winning:
BY LINDSAY SCOTT
Q: I want to make a great impression in an upcoming interview for an internal role in a different department, but my current department has had major project failures this year. How can I best use the bad experience in the interview?
A: If the project failures have been high profile, the interviewers will be interested in learning more about them. Your response should be akin to how you answer the traditional interview question, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” Everyone knows people aren’t perfect, and the same goes for projects.
First, when the question about failure arises, relax. Your answer can demonstrate you’re ready for the position. I always look for project managers who have experienced failure. Without that learning experience, how can they ever be prepared for when it inevitably happens?
Actively demonstrating the lessons learned is a great way to talk about project failure—but do it professionally rather than emotionally. Avoid the blame game, because your interviewers are likely to know the employees involved. Instead, talk about people in more generic terms such as “the client,” “users” or “management.”
Then get more specific on project details, such as risk management issues or process problems that show the causes of the failures. And finally, describe what you did to right the ship—or portray what you would do to correct the same problems in the future.
Never guarantee similar issues won’t happen again. The interviewer wants assurance that you can handle projects that are not all smooth sailing and that you can draw on your experiences to navigate choppy waters.
Don’t hide from ‘failure’
A debrief of a project failure is an opportunity for you as a Project Manager to display your skills at figuring out where things did not go as planned and provide you with the knowledge and experience to establish systems that will prevent a repeat of the occurrence.
“RPA is a promising new development in business automation that offers a potential ROI of 30-200%—in the first year. Employees may like it, too.”
— Xavier Lhuer, McKinsey and Company
The line “Employees may like it, too.” is so simple and understated yet sums up possibly the biggest stumbling block in any Change Management process.
Employees. Their reaction to change can be driven by many factors including a fear that their job or position is under threat.
“What’s wrong with the way we always did it?”
People hear ‘Robotic Processing Automation’ and think of auto factory production lines. RBA applies to any process or production that can be automated, not necessarily ‘robotized’.
Robotic processing automation promises a substantial return on investment that has attracted the attention of business leaders. While the ROI can be impressive, the majority of cost savings are realized by reducing employee headcount. Find out how a change team can identify and mitigate employee resistance to an RPA implementation and create a successful change initiative.
Again a line that is worth addressing “..reducing employee headcount.“
In my experience change management is NOT about reducing staff numbers. It is in fact about removing the human element from mundane repetetive processes and empowering the staff to become more productive and efficient at other tasks more suited to their skills.
Just like any other process in project management, effective change management involves clear planning and communication of what the process means.
Focus on the positive side of things:
you may not have to work late or through lunch anymore
you are able to duplicate your time on data entry by engaging more people in a simpler process (webforms)
you will engage with techno phopes who shy away from noraml data entry due to spreadsheetaphobia – empowering and motivating
your company will be SO much more productive as back office and admin tasks are smoother releasing more time for overwatch and analysis
you can centralize data making it easier for key stakeholders and management to access and inform themselves without absorbing hours of others time
Don’t forget to be in front of the negatives:
there will be people who expect a magic wand approach – change is an iterative process. Roll out steady, sandbox and stress-test .
there will be retraining and many repetitive questions and answers – you are the person with the plan and in the know, you MUST be patient with people, they are willing to learn.
it will take time and you may feel there is no end. Well, there isn’t! At some point your process will gain critical mass and others will take it forward and be ambassadors for your process.
Regardless of how simple, complex, large or small your project is you will need resources in order to complete it.
A resource is any material, machine, person or software that is integral to the success of your project. Ensuring you have the right resource at the right time and place that it is needed is where resource management comes into play.
What do you need?
People to manage and fulfill tasks
Machinery, tools and vehicles to enable them to carry out work
Raw materials, components and supplies that make up the product or service.
Where do you need it?
Usually at the project worksite or manufacturing facility however the transport and logistics behind getting everything to your location as you require it is part of resource management.
How many are required?
Goes without saying whether it is 1 or 100 of anything you still have to know “how many are required?” This comes from experience and knowledge of your particular field.
You also need to consider the productivity (of human resources especially) level in resource management. There’s no point in throwing all your equipment and people at a task and having 50% not being utilized.
When do you need it?
Obviously referring to your project schedule you will have a fair idea of when you physically need your resources in place. It is worth bearing in mind you will also need to note any mobilization time necessary to get your resource to where you want them when you want them – this is your “lead time” when it applies to materials & machinery; “availability” or “workload” when it comes to staff & subcontractors.
Ultimately efficiency & productivity in any project will be a reflection of how well resources are being allocated and managed.