Success in the Digital Economy

Avoiding Project Pitfalls in the Digital Age


“Approximately one-third of all projects don’t meet the expected goals” as indicated in the recent report “Pulse of the Profession” published by the Project Management Institute in 2015. The common pitfalls are well known and still this number has not changed over the last years.

This blog post describes how a combination of best practices and technology of the Digital Age can contribute improving project results over time avoiding the common pitfalls.

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Best wishes and regards,
Osvaldo Ostermann

Projects should align with the corporate strategy

If you ask 10 employees which is the strategy of your company, would they all have the same one-sentence-answer?


As published by Harvard Business Review in 2005, “on average, 95% of a company’s employees are unaware of, or do not understand, its strategy”.


The small effort or properly writing and  communicating a company's strategy to all employees on a regular basis generates positive results because it focuses everybody’s work into one common direction. Unfortunately, few companies do it and this is why company projects often misuse resources implementing projects that don’t really contribute to the core business.

Project Goals should "touch" everybody


Hands Touching Image
© Photographer: Petarneychev | Agency:


Incredibly enough, even large projects where millions of Euros (or USD) are spent have unclear goals. Very often, the company’s top management expects quite different results than the project team is working on. This situation generates bad results by design. Nobody can be happy after completing such a project.


According to Dr. Gail Matthews at Dominican University, the chances of achieving goals is higher when those goals are written.


Best results are achieved when project goals a written, communicated and accepted by the management as well as the team. Many years ago IBM Germany challenged IBM Japan to compete on the business results of a certain year. The goal was written, the management team signed it and it was published as posters all across the buildings.

Project responsibilities should avoid "black holes"

Colorful Mosaic Ceramic Tile Image
© Photographer: Daisyeung | Agency:

Think of your project outcome as a great picture made of individual tiles.
Does every tile have an owner?

The small effort of writing and communicating all project responsibilities to the project team generates better results because it avoids unclear areas of responsibility.  The larger the project, the more results it is expected to generate and therefore the higher the risk that not all the responsibilities are distributed among the team members.


If you have noticed in previous projects that certain tasks have not been done it might be the case because your project had “black holes” in the overall results map. Black holes can be avoided by reviewing with the team all major results and defining the corresponding tasks. In addition, projects need to promote and reward team members who take up undefined responsibilities and implement them.

Project data structure should be defined upfront

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© Photographer: Mezzotintdreamstime | Agency:


Think of your project as a generator of digital assets that need to be created and consumed to produce results. Defining upfront all the documentation, the generator, the receiver and the corresponding structure will increase the productivity and generate better results.


In the Digital Economy where information is the basis for input and output of tasks and projects we see that project teams leave it to the individual persons to determine the structure of the information generated and exchanged. The big problem here is that the information “generator” and the information “receptor” have different expectations on the structure of the exchanged information. As a result, thousands of working hours are spent just to adapt information so that the “next-in-line” can use it properly.


As it was published by CNN in 1999  “NASA lost a $125 million Mars orbiter because a Lockheed Martin engineering team used English units of measurement while the agency's team used the more conventional metric system for a key spacecraft operation, according to a review finding released Thursday.”

Project experience is "wind for sailing"

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© Photographer: Jefras | Agency:


As said by Richard Branson, “There are few things more valuable to an entrepreneur than being able to call upon experience to make decisions.”


How can we become better if we don’t use the internal (and even external) experience of the past? Repetitive projects (like building many houses during the year) make it easier to reuse the experience since the project teams do it over and over again. But many large company projects are done only once (like replacing the core business application) and therefore it is impossible to have internal experience. In those cases, do we obtain external experience?


Technology can contribute to avoid these project pitfalls

In today’s Digital Economy we have access to software tools that can help us to avoid all all of the mentioned project pitfalls. Are you using these tools?

  1. Enterprise social media

    Does your CEO (and the top management) have a blog to communicate with the employees and receive immediate feedback? There is no better way today to communicate the company strategy and obtain immediate feedback employees.


  2. Project collaboration tools

    Does your company use the proper integrated project collaboration application to centralize information, manage tasks, establish project management standards, and communicate to the project team regularly? Modern software is for any type of project, and for any level of employee, not just for experts that “build bridges”.


  3. Knowledge improvement tools

    Do you store experience and re-utilize it in future projects? Do you measure how your project results become better over time? Next generation business applications automatically save experience and make it very very simple to re-use it. You don’t even have to think about it.


We at Calvi Systems provide customers around the world the necessary technology to improve their project success. Our enterprise application ExxpertApps is the infrastructure for the Digital Economy and is being used to manage projects, communicate internally and externally and save & reuse experience to improve business processes. In case you would like to use all these technology elements to improve your project results, feel free to contact us at



Osvaldo Ostermann ImageBest wishes and regards,

Osvaldo Ostermann
Director Research & Development
Calvi Systems SL - c/ Tramontana 39-3C - 28223 Pozuelo de Alarcón (Madrid) - Spain -
Tel. +34 91 512 3344 -                         

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Calvi Systems is a software and consultancy company. We help customers achieve competitive advantage in the Digital Economy through a Next Generation Enterprise Application (ExxpertApps) and consultancy services.
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