The New Project Management: Tools for an Age of Rapid Change, Complexity, and Other Business Realities

By J. Davidson Frame | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TEN
Estimating Realistic
Costs, Schedules, and
Specifications to Ensure
Project Success

I spent the late spring of 1989 in Beijing on a World Bank consulting assignment. This was at the time of the Tiananmen Square turmoil. I worked with two groups of project managers, one in the chemical engineering industry and the other in shipbuilding. The environment in which we carried out our sessions was a bit distracting. As we talked about managing projects, we could hear the cheers and chants of student and worker demonstrators outside.

“What do you find to be the single greatest problem of project management in your jobs?” I asked my students.

They answered with amazing consistency. “If we are to get support for our projects, ” they said, “we must state that we can do the project for nearly nothing. Once the project is authorized, we spend all of our time scrambling for resources.”

This problem is certainly not unique to China. In organization after organization, I hear the same refrain: “We are committed to doing the job with insufficient resources.” Having worked with many project managers in a large number of organizations, I have reached the conclusion that the great majority of projects being carried out today are underresourced by 20 to 30 percent. What is particularly bothersome

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