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Project Completion Is Stuck at 90% Done

The following is an excerpt from a book written by Sanjiv Purba and Joseph Zucchero, published by McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2100 Powell Street, 10th Floor, Emeryville, California 94608 U.S.A. Sanjiv has over 20 years of experience managing large projects and many years engaged in rescuing ailing projects.

"When a project manager first hears that a project is 90 percent complete there's a lot of excitement and euphoria. This level of completion is presumably achieved through gradual increases, week over week, and reported on regular status reports or at status meetings. There are several potential problems with a completion number. It is usually generated by imprecise qualifications or a gut feel on the part of a project manager or a project coordinator. The complexity of the remaining 10 percent is also unclear and the small number may be misleading."

"Indeed, projects have a tendency to remain in this state. Dig deeper when a percentage complete value does not change between successive status periods. Another warning sign is a sudden deceleration in percent complete. For example, say the project complete value is moving at a clip of 20 to 30 percent a week and then all of a sudden you're seeing only a 1 or 2 percent change. The project team may be coming to grips with the true requirements of the initiative and may have been too optimistic in earlier status meetings."

"A final consideration is when a percent complete goes down. This could also be caused by an introduction of new requirements, but it could be a result of bad reporting in earlier status segments. Usually a number that is brought down may not be low enough, due to additional wishful thinking from a project team. The problem may be much deeper than reports suggest."