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Project Performance: Is your project late? Over budget?

Summary and conclusion

Are your projects still late? Do they continue to cost too much? Do they deliver less than promised? Unfortunately, the answer is probably yes.

The point of this series was to demonstrate how that needn’t be the case. Think about it… you learn new things every day. You continuously improve. You don’t repeat the same mistake twice. You’ve gone to class. You’ve learned the latest techniques. The same is true for others in the organization. They want to do the best job they can. When things go wrong, they make a mental note. When something works, they’ll do it again.

We follow Deming’s TQM principles – we plan (sometimes unconsciously) to improve, we change, we examine our results and we act on what we’ve learned. We constantly move around the circle. It never ends.


We’re all evolving along the lines of the Capability Maturity Model. We control what we do. We attempt to be proactive instead of reactive. We measure what we’ve done. We seek to improve. When a process doesn’t work we determine why. We have many changes going on at the same time. It never ends.

We ask ourselves (and Goldratt would be proud), where’s the weak link? What’s the one thing we need to do better? What’s the constraint? What’s holding us back? We watch out for Parkinson’s Law that says work expands to fill its time. We understand that it can be “quality” even if we finish early (the Three-Minute Egg Rule). We don’t wait to the last minute to start a task (the Student Syndrome).

We attempt to eliminate personal “defects.” Along the lines of 6 Sigma, when a problem is identified, we collect information about it. We analyze it. We make changes. We attempt to better control it in the future. We challenge common sense. We anticipate problems and eliminate them in advance.

So, I ask again. Are your projects late? Do they cost too much? Do they deliver enough?

There exists a massive amount of knowledge within your organization. Count the number of projects done and multiple it by the number of people who worked on them. Add in their experiences in previous positions. Is there anything new under the sun? Insanity is doing the same things over and over again but expecting different results. Few of us are insane, but I’d submit that Einstein would suggest most of our organizations are insane because they don’t utilize the collective wisdom of their employees.

So, what do we do? How do we bring sanity into our organization? Given the right circumstances, all the continuous improvement models work. Organizations all over the world have used them to bring dramatic and lasting improvements to the way they operate. The key is information sharing. The organization must institute policies and procedures to ensure the information learned by one is shared and used by everyone. We can’t do our best if we’re not supported by information. You will make the right decision when you have all the pertinent information. Your decisions will often be wrong when a key piece of information is missing. We don’t operate in isolation. How do you collect and share the knowledge in the organization with the organization?

The secret to continuous performance improvement is to approach it as a journey. As in all journeys, there’s a path that should be followed. Understand there are many paths to the goal. One is defined by TQM, one by TOC, one by CMM, one by COBIT, one by 6 Sigma. They all lead to the same goal. But they only lead to the goal if they’re taken. The destination is a state of continuous improvement. Once everyone in an organization begins continually searching for ways to do the project better, faster and cheaper and communicates what they’ve learned to others – the journey starts: You’re on your way.

I hope this series of articles that explored a few of the many continuous improvement models was helpful. It’s easy to find out more about them. Take a class, read a book, study, talk to a consultant.

For this journey, a single path doesn’t exist, but many paths exist. There’s no single way, but many ways to arrive. But you have to start. Get moving! Today!

Michael J. Weymier, PMP, is founder of PM Maturity and can be reached at

The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, & do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.

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