The Dangers of Doing the Same Old Thing

There are a number of legitimate reasons for a Project Team to execute very similar—sometimes nearly identical—projects. In fast-growing companies where office space is at a premium, for example, desk churn may be an ongoing challenge and the same departments could end up relocating several times in search of more room. Or the functionalities in a software suite might need to be revamped and updated to meet the evolving needs of users or to take advantage of new technologies.

many cups and saucers arranged uniformly

Assuming that needs or expectations remained constant

Every detail of a project, whether it appears to be a carbon copy of earlier efforts, should be reexamined during the planning phase because stakeholders’ needs and expectations could have changed in major ways. Even a small reduction in staffing levels or modifications to job responsibilities could transform the type of input or support end users are able to provide. Organizational factors may have also matured, such as the addition of a new executive occupying an oversight role for one or more of the departments that will be involved in the project. Though some baseline relationships will likely be the same as before, it’s better the team do its due diligence early to avoid difficulties or misunderstandings later.

Overlooking new data

Just as benchmarking metrics routinely change to reflect the latest data sets, other information should also be reviewed any time a new project gets underway. Even the most basic premises used to determine the scope of a repeating project—the organization’s standard desk size, or how many beta users are typically included in a focus group—should each be confirmed to ensure PMP®s aren’t inadvertently relying on outdated information. Whether the data is generated internally or sourced from the outside, the most current statistics and intelligence need to be gathered and evaluated to identify where changes may exist and how those differences will influence the project’s activities or resource requirements.

Sticking to the original cast of characters

Data points aren’t the only foundational elements that sometimes change. The people involved in the latest project may also be different from other, similar efforts. This is true even when the stakeholder groups as a whole appear to be static. Individual job roles may have changed, either giving certain people more influence or removing them from the project process entirely. To be sure the right mix of stakeholders is involved in planning discussions and included in project communications, PMP®s will want to work with high-level leaders to come up to speed on the current hierarchy of the various groups. Once the areas of responsibility come into sharper focus, the broader team may be winnowed down to those individuals who are in a position to contribute to the project’s efforts or whose workflows and activities will be impacted by it.

Being unaware of new or revised regulatory requirements

Rarely is this done intentionally, but mandates are an ever-evolving issue. PMP®s could simply be ignorant about new or expanded regulations governing some project activities that were previously outside any sort of external governance. Begin by looking at the compliance requirements normally associated with your organization’s industry, then delve deeper into the disciplines, processes, and even the customer base the project will impact. Any one of these could fall under a new or revised regulatory requirement and knowing where mandates exist will be crucial in defining the newest project’s scope, timetable, and resource needs.

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