Analysis

Quick Fix

Improving project management skills is key to minimizing project failures, according to Collaboration, Management and Control Solutions (CMCS) CEO and founder Bassam Samman

 Collaboration, Management and Control Solution, Bassam SammanAmid the positive economic forecasts that the Middle East region is slowly rebounding from the impact of the global financial downturn, one factor that seems to be pulling the region back from full recovery is the presence of development projects that have either stopped, exceeded their original budgets or that have missed their scheduled date of completion.

These failed projects translate to billions of dollars wasted every year — leaving investors grappling with huge financial losses and the missed opportunity of putting the funds into other investment initiatives.

According to a recent survey conducted by Collaboration, Management and Control Solutions (CMCS), the leading causes of project failure in the Middle East region are poor project planning and methodology, unrealistic target completion dates and a lack of communication. The results of the survey show the region’s alarming underinvestment in project management competencies across different project-based sectors.

The survey, which was conducted among members of the region’s construction and development segment, reveals improper planning and poor methodology (78%) as the top reason for today’s failed projects. This was followed by a lack of proper communication at 75% and the setting of unrealistic target completion dates at 67%.

Other factors identified in the survey were the lack of commitment and involvement from senior management (59%) inadequate budget and resources (56%), too many assumptions and unknowns (51%), project politics and conflicts (38%), a lack of set targets and measurable results (45%), and the presence of unqualified project delivery teams on site (27%).

LEARNING FROM ERROR

The global financial downturn has helped us to see the inadequacies and flaws in the way the region manages its projects. We should have learnt our lesson through the discovery of these errors and sought out solutions to help deal with them.

Despite economic experts predicting the slow-but-sure path to recovery of the construction sector, we still find ourselves committing the same mistakes that ultimately result in project failure — poor planning and execution, flaws in communication and setting unreachable target deadlines. Not only do these failed projects hinder our move towards recovery but they also set a big blow in terms of huge investment losses.

The solution lies in the implementation of a strategy that sets out to expand and enhance project management competencies. Adopting benchmark project management innovations and practices can bolster the success rates of current development projects in the Middle East. Formal education in project management is the key, and the region seems to be catching up on this.

Today, countries like the UAE and KSA have expressed a growing interest in managing project risk. Investing in a sound project management system and utilising it as part of a company’s daily operations translates to positive results.

Other catalysts for failure noted in the survey were lack of motivation and the inability to properly control the project team, insufficient risk analysis, lack of planning tools and weak IT infrastructure, slow decision making, lack of alignment with the organisation’s strategic goals, delays in engineering and procurement, the wrong choice of contractors, design changes, and economic instability.

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