Rob Prinzo tells you why your plans never work out Featured

8:01pm EDT October 31, 2011
Rob Prinzo tells you why your plans never work out

Rob Prinzo had been involved in implementing technology projects for 15 years. In 2008, he started to look back and ask why projects failed and why some were successful. He started writing out his methodology for quality assurance checks.

“As I went through that process, I created the methodology to make sure a project is on track,” he says.

But as he wrote it up, it also became apparent that it wasn’t a very interesting read.

“It was very technical, so I rewrote the methodology into the story to take some mystery out of it and give something easier to read,” he says.

The result was his book: “No Wishing Required: The Business Case for Project Assurance.”

Smart Business spoke with Prinzo, founder and CEO of The Prinzo Group, about his book.

What is one of the major principles you hit on in your book?

The principle behind it is really to identify the real issue that you’re facing. If you look at the reason why projects fail — they fail early in the life cycle or not having top management commitment — they lead to buying the wrong software or buying services that don’t fit your needs.

Take the time to do things upfront in terms of requirements, analysis and planning and validate that with other organizations in your industry research before you plunge into a project. That way you make sure you’re heading off on the right track. Assess how you’re doing against that baseline. As the project goes on, more gaps can occur if someone isn’t monitoring.

How often do you suggest people monitor those projects?

I’ve identified six places across the project life cycle where it makes sense to do an assessment. Each is after you’ve gathered and before you’ve made a formal decision to validate.

[It takes] as long as it takes to make sure you’ve thought everything through. If you have a significant project that may be a 12-month initiative, you may see people spending one to two months planning and the next 10 on implementing, 8 to 12 weeks of strategy and then verifying if your timeframe allows for that. But definitely more time needs to be spent up front. The more you do up front, the less correction you have to do later. It’s better to pay up front.

So the bigger issue is people are rushing those projects?

They may not have thought they rushed into it — a lot of times people look for a technical solution. We need to go out and procure a system, but really what an organization may need is to improve its processes around how it manages its customers. A lot of time people go out and look for a point technology solution instead of looking at everything that’s needed in that process. It may be functionality — they go looking to buy a solution to a problem but they didn’t really look at all their requirements across the board.

What can executives do to be better at project management?

Executives have to be engaged in the project on a periodic basis beyond someone reporting status. They need to be asking questions about the project status today but also what’s coming up in the days ahead. Everything is on track. That’s great, but you need to be looking beyond those indicators to see what’s coming.

It’s being able to hold your people accountable. You don’t want that person in the details, but they also shouldn’t assume that everything is being taken care of. Ask the questions that give them a comfort level that everything is on track.

What I’ve tried to do is write a very simple-to-read, educational book that everyone can have a takeaway from. From the feedback I’ve gotten, that’s the direction I’ve achieved.

How to reach: The Prinzo Group, (770) 777-8316 or www.prinzogroup.com