Why is your project failing? The reason Project Management is “out” and Work Orchestration is “in”

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August 5, 2020

The world of work is more complex today than ever before. Most organizations are now dealing with geographically dispersed teams, working across timezones, in remote locations, and heavily relying on project management or collaboration tools for success. Whether this is your ‘normal’, or your ‘new normal’ brought about by pandemic restrictions, the requirement is the same: effective, successful team and technology collaboration to get the job done.

These challenges are tough enough when it comes to keeping business-as-usual activities on track, but the inherent complexities are even more obstructive  when it comes to large IT initiatives. 

So it should come as no surprise that, despite numerous project management tools and methodologies touted to improve outcomes, projects still fail. In fact, large projects are twice as likely to be late, over budget, and missing critical features than small projects, according to an industry report.

A survey published in HBR found that the average IT project overran its budget by 27%. Moreover, at least one in six IT projects turns into a “black swan” with a cost overrun of 200% and a schedule overrun of 70%.

So, what’s causing these failures? 

Today, projects have a lot of moving parts. For any one IT project there are thousands of tasks (human and machine), dozens of team members (many of which are on several projects at the same time), and numerous systems involved. Given this explosive growth in complexity, traditional project management tools just don’t cut it and are failing miserably at directing large IT initiatives. Why? Because they don’t adequately account for, optimise, or integrate the ‘human’ activities involved in a big change event with the technological ones. Clearly, how we handle complex initiatives demands a new approach.

Introducing Work Orchestration

The directive to “manage” projects and teams is obsolete. A new approach—“work orchestration”—is needed.

Consider these definitions from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

  • Manage (v) - to handle or direct with a degree of skill
  • Orchestrate (v) - to arrange or combine so as to achieve a desired or maximum effect

In the context of IT initiatives, critical dependencies, resource constraints, and unexpected risks can quickly throw a project off course. Having the ability to orchestrate (arrange/combine/modify) activities to improve the outcome would be ideal. Right? 

The idea of orchestration is not new. Many tools exist to orchestrate IT functions, providing automated configuration, management, and coordination of actions, systems, applications, and processes. But these tools fail to include human activities. 

Work orchestration is the next frontier, encompassing both manual and automated tasks, and organizing both human and machine activities. 

Powering Work Orchestration

Technological innovation transforms organizations, but only when it’s backed by the great talent and vision of people. Technology is at its best when it augments and empowers people – automates manual, repetitive tasks to free up people to focus on activities that add value.

Unfortunately, many organizations still rely on project management software, spreadsheets, emails, and conference calls to orchestrate highly complex change events. This disjointed, archaic approach does little to alleviate team members of manual, time-consuming tasks. 

A survey by expense management company Webexpenses found workers typically spend more than two hours a day doing admin, paperwork and attending meetings—time they felt could be put toward more important jobs. For project managers, the workload is even greater with time spent tracking progress, requesting and sending updates, scheduling calls, and compiling status reports.

Within this environment, seeing and understanding how various projects overlap and interact, as well as how resources are utilized—key elements of work orchestration—are non-existent. This lack of visibility is another crucial point of failure. How do you avoid mistakes, delays, or complications if you can’t even see them?

Humans and technology don’t have to be at odds. The best solutions enable superior visibility, communication, and coordination between the two components.  Our Work Orchestration and Observability platform provides an unparalleled ability to coordinate work using automation and intelligent orchestration of humans and machines. Empowered by Cutover’s many cutting-edge features and capabilities, our customers are experiencing: 

  • Increased Operational Resilience: Observable, repeatable workflows for testing, recovery, and repetitive events that reduce setup effort and eliminate “preventable” mistakes. 
  • Improved Decision Making - Stakeholders have real-time status communications, playbooks that address a variety of situations, such as a major IT systems failure or data breach, and live dashboards to see high-level plans with the ability to drill down into any plan’s tasks.
  • Enhanced Critical Event Management - Teams have a real-time picture of every aspect of the change process as it develops across applications, platforms, geographies, and people, enabling them to more quickly identify and eliminate potential risks.
  • Greater Visibility - Cutover assembles vast, unstructured data to provide teams with a real-time view of all project activities, both current and planned. 
  • Streamlined Communication - Built-in communication features, including automated emails, SMS messages, and conference call setup, streamline collaboration, capture activities, and provide real-time status to teams and stakeholders. 
  • Improved Worker Efficiency - Automated features built into the platform eliminate many manual administrative tasks, such as requesting updates, setting up calls, and compiling status reports, freeing up people to focus on high-value activities.
  • Optimized Resources - Real-time data on who is actively using the platform, what and how many projects they are assigned to, and the status of their activities across all projects enables managers to quickly arrange resources to improve outcomes.

Interested in learning how Work Orchestration can set your team up for success? Contact us today for a no-obligation demonstration.

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