Project Cheers or Project Tears?

Cheetah Transformation Consultancy

Cheetah Transformation Consultancy

The Smartsheet consultant’s secret to predicting whether your next project will succeed or fail

Why do some projects succeed while others are doomed to fail?

Is there a key formula that predicts whether a project will be a success, or not?

As a Smartsheet consultant, I’m often asked the secret to successful projects.

Well, the good news is, you don’t have to leave it to chance. There is a simple three-element formula that will give your project the very best chance of success.

And I’m about to share it with you.

Through my Smartsheet consultancy work, I’ve looked at hundreds of different projects and have discovered that every successful project comes down to just three crucial elements.

Get these three elements right, and providing the philosophy behind the project is sound, it’s likely that your project will be a success.

The three elements are:

  • People
  • Process
  • Technology

That’s it! No complicated algorithms, no multi-tiered strategy. Just three simple elements.

Let’s take a closer look.

Transformation through process, people & systems
How Process, People & Technology come together to deliver transformation

Element One: People – the people involved in your project are the most important factor.

It’s essential that your teams know the plan and know what’s expected of them.

Don’t just give people a task to complete. Instead, show them the overall vision so that they know how their part impacts on something much bigger. When your people know why their input is important, they’ll take ownership and make things happen.

Once people understand the part they play, they will do everything in their power to complete their tasks on time. That’s because they’ll recognise the impact their work has on other departments – and on the overall project success.

This applies to both the doers and the sponsors of a project. Sponsors must provide the framework for the project to succeed, with regular steering meetings scheduled. This ensures any issues or risks can be flagged early and resolved head on. If issues or risks crop up, which will invariably happen, they are there to help knock heads together and break down barriers to help the project succeed.

Linked to people, establishing the right rhythms & rituals in the business is key. They should cover quick 15 minute weekly/daily stand-ups where quick decisions are made, to the more formal 60 minute weekly Project meetings. Programme meetings, where the sponsor or senior team member is present, is the right forum to raise issues and risks. The project will naturally take on it’s own rhythm, and it’s the Project Managers role to establish this.


Element Two: Process – to achieve a successful project, you need a clear plan.

The process must be clearly articulated, and be broken down into phases with clear timelines, dependencies and accountabilities.

When projects fail, it’s often because the process wasn’t clearly mapped out at the beginning.

In any project, things can happen to potentially derail your plans but with a clear process in place, you’ll be able to make sure unexpected events can be handled quickly, without harming the outcome of your project.

When planning your process, focus on these three key factors:

  • Keep it simple, break down the processes into stages and tasks, with a clear milestone at the end of every stage
  • Be clear how you communicate the baton handover from one team to another
  • Highlight the critical path and the key milestones that have a major impact on project success


Element Three: Technology – if the people and the process are the first two factors that make a successful project, it’s the technology / systems you use that tie everything together.

With the right project management systems in place, your people will have clear visibility of what’s going on at any time. They’ll also have accountability and be able to make smarter decisions, faster.

Essentially, your technology system should protect your process. A good project management platform will enable you to see exactly what needs to happen to keep things on track. It will also flag up any potential issues before they become a problem so that you can act in good time.

The trick here is to use a simple tool that helps you makes it easy to work during every stage of your project.

The right system will help you avoid the dreaded email and Excel overload. Instead, it will provide the true status of the project at any time through dashboards, visible to the entire team.


Let’s Summarise: Where Transformation Happens

When working on a project, it’s only when you get the three elements of People, Process, and Technology working together that you get true transformation.

Technology / systems bring the visibility and transparency needed to help improve the process.

Meanwhile, people feel more empowered when they know the overall process and the part they play. It’s this accountability that ensures they do a great job and often create new innovative ways of doing things.

The process, now defined on the technology system, and no longer unknown in nature, becomes your guide & friend and colleagues will find ways to improve it.


If you’d like to find out how our Smartsheet consultancy services can help your projects succeed, click here to book your free discovery call.

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