Skip to content

Overcoming project management pitfalls

There is no shortage of stories of project failure. Organisations around the globe have experienced the highs and lows of project management and the impacts of project work on resources, outputs and broken systems, under the traditional model of project management theory. Times have changed, and just about anyone with a bit of MS Project ‘know-how’ can create a Gantt chart, but it takes far more than a Gantt chart to make a project a success.

UniSQ researchers are challenging the age-old theories of project management by taking a look at what really happens in project work. Their goal is to better equip organisations to deal with the messy realities of project work. UniSQ has broken the mould of traditional thinking and is now looking at project work and project management, through new lenses.

Assoc. Prof. Jon Whitty is better equipping organisations to deal with the messy realities of project work.
Globally, organisations wasted an average of $97 million per $1 billion invested in projects in 2016.*

Partnering with organisations and individual project managers in both the public and private sector across Australia, UniSQ is focusing on the ‘lived experience’ of projects by revealing what’s actually happening in the field, rather than what’s meant to happen according to the best practice guides and theory. This ‘actuality-based’ approach to project work is revolutionising project management practice.

In Australia, $108 million for every $1 billion invested in projects was wasted in 2016.*

All sounds good in theory, but how? By developing practical tools, metaphors and language that organisations can use to identify, discuss and deal with the barriers to capability that are present in project work. Many of the traditional project management tools and methods cover-up the barriers to a project’s delivery through a façade of detailed documents with ambitious goals and fancy terms. UniSQ’s tools, metaphors and language delve below this façade to bring attention to the constraints on an individual project delivering its objectives and an organisation’s overall project management capability. Such an approach increases the likelihood of project success.


Addressing systematic barriers 

The Project-Space Model coupled with the SyLLK Model addresses systemic barriers to successful project delivery in an organisation. Traditional project management maturity models fail to address the nuances of individual organisations and this results in repeating the same mistakes again and again. Coupling the Project-Space Model with the SyLLK Model enables problems on the project ‘front-line’ to be identified and then resolved at the organisational level. 

There is a raft of discussion on what ‘should’ happen in projects, but only UniSQ acknowledges the realities of project work and provides capability-focused tools to help their partners to actually deliver project outcomes.

Pause Previous Next

SyLLK model 

A second tool developed by UniSQ researchers is the SyLLK model. This model provides a systemic view of an organisation’s capabilities. A systemic view highlights the many parts of an organisation that can constrain or enable a specific capability. If any part of an organisation’s systems is not aligned to delivering a particular capability this capability will be hindered. 


Using SyLLK

Project-Space Model

The Project-Space Model, a tool developed by UniSQ Researchers, gives managers a visual representation of the actual and potential enablers and constraints to their project. Every project is unique and the ability to identify, discuss and manage these unique enablers and constraints is critical to achieving delivery.

People are the key assets behind successful projects and UniSQ’s researchers are using the experience and lessons learned of project managers and its organisational partners to develop better solutions that are fit for practice in today’s economy.

Be part of industry transformation

Further your studies and passion for research with UniSQ’s Higher Degrees by Research.