Why a Third of Your Projects Will Probably Fail — And What You Should Do About It

by Katy Beloof

To compete in today’s marketplace, organizations can no longer rely solely on the old standbys of growing revenue and reducing costs. Increasingly, the success of enterprise organizations depends their ability to engage customers, accelerate product development, and attract world-class talent ahead of the competition.

These new business needs are fundamentally changing the nature of work. According to an October 2018 commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Smartsheet, Deliver On Top Business Objectives With Collaborative Work Management, businesses are seeing:

  • An increase in the number and scale of projects (77 percent of organizations)
  • The onus of project management skills disseminating across the organization, rather than staying with a dedicated management function (70 percent of organizations)
  • Unstructured project work (unanticipated or unaccounted for tasks that are required to complete projects) are on the rise (70 percent of organizations)

In order to succeed in this changing landscape and drive project success, the majority of organizations surveyed agree that it’s critical for them to find a way to facilitate collaboration and transparency within teams and across silos, as well as providing real-time oversight that empowers managers to move “at the true speed of business.”

Yet the same Smartsheet-commissioned study finds that traditional project management tools are unable to hold up to the demands of businesses today. In fact, they’re “endangering key business outcomes.”

The Failure of Traditional Project Management Tools

While traditional project management tools effectively support the management of resource allocation and cost, they are typically targeted at professional project managers who have specialized training, and aren’t easily adopted by the information workers responsible for managing projects in today’s work environment, nor do they serve the highly collaborative nature of today’s projects.

According to the Smartsheet-commissioned Forrester Consulting study cited above, the firms surveyed are failing to deliver on at least one of three key delivery metrics more than a third of the time:

  • 35 percent of projects fail to meet original business intent
  • 38 percent of projects fail to meet initial timelines
  • 34 percent of projects fail to finish within budget

These shortcomings put “revenue, innovation, and customer satisfaction at stake” for the entire organization.

In order to succeed in delivering on evolving business priorities, businesses must work differently by turning to what Forrester calls Collaborative Work Management (CWM) tools or solutions, which “improve the ability of organizations to rapidly plan and deliver on projects” and have the potential to “give enterprises total transparency into modern work execution, while remaining aligned to the strategic portfolio.”

Forrester defines collaborative work management as “software tools that support the confluence of project and process work by allowing users to create personal and team workspaces; invite other users, internal and external to the organization, to collaborate on digital artifacts; identify workload requirements and capacity; and allocate activities to other users to deliver on work items and then track progress.”


Smartsheet Is a Leader in Collaborative Work Management Tools for the Enterprise

According to the study cited above, organizations are seeing value in “mobile- and methodology-agnostic” CWM tools that empower teams to plan and execute work across workstreams.

In fact, this study found that CWM platforms enable teams to “more rapidly plan and deliver on projects,” which in turn:

  • Supports revenue growth
  • Improves customer experience
  • Leads to happier and more empowered employees

The businesswide benefits that CWM tools and platforms offer organizations are clear. In order to remain competitive, organizations must rethink the ways they get work done, and leverage tools and platforms that provide the flexibility and transparency they need to move quickly.

To learn more about how your organization can “Deliver On Top Business Objectives With Collaborative Work Management,” including key recommendations from Forrester Consulting based on their findings, read the full study here.