The Need for Project Development Methodologies

Good projects don’t just “happen”. Although there is no precise recipe for putting together a good project, it’s fair to say that some of the key ingredients are vision, technical expertise, a sound business plan, persistence and some good luck. While it’s relatively easy to understand why and how successful projects come about, it’s not so easy to put them together. In spite of the good intentions of project sponsors, including individual entrepreneurs, businesses, and government entities, the vast majority of project ideas never get off the ground. One way of looking at this situation is to say that the project ideas weren’t very good to start with and that’s why they failed.

Another way of looking at it is to conclude that the project ideas were never developed in a manner which enabled the vision to be fashioned in a balanced way, ensuring that the concept has the necessary market/economics supports and can be achieved in physical terms. Too often, in the initial stages of developing a project, emphasis is placed on one facet of the project while other questions and issues remain unaddressed. For example, how many times has a new concept for a visitor attraction been put forward as a design for a building, without the requisite market/economics studies to ensure that the cost of the vision can be supported?

In other cases, it’s the other way around: a detailed business plan is developed with little or no attention paid to the physical requirements of building a facility on a specific site which may entail significant infrastructure costs including roads, utilities, and the like. Thus, in order to avoid these common, often fatal errors, project proponents need to focus on a methodological approach which, although unique to their particular undertaking, can ensure that a reasonable balance between key elements is achieved in the early going so that the following steps can be taken confidently and effectively.

The 3-Legged Stool

If we look at the project development process as a 3-Legged Stool, we can see that it is imperative for a project to have a successful balance of key elements. Many projects fail because one or more of these elements are “afterthoughts” or not addressed at all. Methodologies Links are provided below to three articles which discuss methodologies which have proven useful in a variety of circumstances in developing projects.