Project Problem-Solving: Dilbert vs. PRINCE2

Author -  Dan Skelsey

Dedicated to the Dilberts in all of us

Every project is different and unique. However, projects that fail usually do so as a result of similar types of problems. Just look at Dilbert, Scott Adams’ legendary white-collar cartoon character – a dry-humoured micro-manager-come-engineer who has satirized office humour for a generation.

Watch the following video and you'll see that Dilbert’s hilariously droll take on project problem solving is far closer to the daily dramas seen in project management than most of us would dare to admit.

Meanwhile, back in the real-world...

Finding examples of failed projects is not difficult, but making a fair assessment of the issues that caused failure may not be quite as easy. Projects can be completed on time and within budget and still fail – if a project does not deliver the expected results and quality, it can hardly be judged as successful.  

Take a look at the ten most common problems that derail projects

1.      Poor Planning – includes not prioritizing effectively, not having a proper business plan, not breaking down the development into phases.

2.      Lack of Leadership – If the Project Manager lacks the relevant business/management expertise this will lead to poor decision making.

3.      People Problems – leads to unresolved conflicts which could have a detrimental effect on the project.  A Project Manager needs expert communication skills to keep everybody on board and in agreement.

4.      Vague/Changing Requirements – it’s essential that the project requirements are defined clearly and completely from the start.  Change requests can cause the project to drift and miss deadlines.

5.      Lifecycle Problems – often caused by poor planning or changing requirements. Initial testing techniques should be rigorous in order to avoid repeated errors.

6.      Inefficient Communication Process – it’s vital to keep everybody informed on the project status at all times.  Lack of efficient communication will lead to errors and delays.

7.      Inadequate Funding – this issue is most likely to affect projects with changing requirements.

8.      Stakeholder Approval – effective stakeholder management is the ability to identify individuals affected by and/or likely to affect the successful outcome of the project. A skilled project manager will ensure a collaborative working environment where project phases can be analyzed and discussed by all stakeholders.

9.      No Established Schedule for tasks, operational activities or objectives. 

10.  Delays in phases of the project, leading to missed deadlines.

Why being clairvoyant is an advantage

According to Fredrik Haren, author of The Idea Book and speaker on innovation:

“PMs are the most creative pros in the world; we have to figure out everything that could go wrong, before it does.”

So, how do you figure out everything that could go wrong before it does? 

Assuming you cannot safely rely on your psychic abilities when it comes to avoiding problems in projects, do what thousands of Australian project managers have already done - get PRINCE2 certified. Wherever you are, whatever your market sector, an internationally recognised PRINCE2 qualification makes it possible to learn the business management skills you need in order to bring your projects to success - within budget and within deadline. Note to self - email Dilbert a copy of our next PRINCE2 course schedule.

At Project Laneways we specialise in training business professionals in the skills they need to ensure success.  Our PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner Courses will equip you with the skills and tools you need to work on or manage projects to ensure a successful outcome. 

If you’d like to become a registered practitioner, check out our PRINCE2 course details here, or call us on 
Melbourne 03 9038 9236

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