No Project Should Ever Finish Late (and Why Yours Probably Will, Anyway)

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3 Scopus citations


Projects continue to offer a superior means for organizations to realize many advantages, including improving internal operations, achieving commercial success, and fostering greater society benefits. In spite of the enthusiasm with which projects are undertaken, in company after company, there is clear evidence of chronic under-performance, frustrating project managers, and making efforts to achieve success difficult. While there are a number of causes of poor project performance, one consistent theme running through under-performance is a failure to account for a variety of behavioral missteps. This article explores some of the reasons for consistent poor project results, particularly with schedule slippages, arguing that many of the causes of project failure are attributable to human error. In identifying some of the most common behavioral mistakes, this article explains the implications of these often well-meaning actions that can have a deleterious effect on project performance, including rework, Brooks' Law, motivation behind padding activity duration estimates, the dangers of overtime, and more. Finally, we will consider suggestions for improving project delivery by recognizing and correcting behaviors that, through thought to remediate projects in difficulty, are actually exacerbating our challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-192
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Engineering Management Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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