Does Size Matter (the most)?



Imagine of planning to take one single step. Is it to be considered as a small or as large project?


A small project is short in duration, typically lasting less than six months, and usually part-time in effort hours and has 10 or fewer team members. A large one is that extends over 1 year, perhaps even 6 months, and usually, founding, team-size and other factors are considered in addition.


According to Gartner the worldwide IT spending increases 3.4 percent year-over-year for a total of $3.9 trillion in 2020. In the contrary, according to a 2017 report from the Project Management Institute (PMI), 14 percent of IT projects fail, yet, of the projects that did not fail outright, 31 percent did not meet their goals, 43 percent exceeded their initial budgets, and 49 percent were late.


This balance may would be better if projects were treated the same way as I have experienced in a recent conversation with a CIO, talking about his upcoming project to be managed.

Near to the end of the call, he asked me the following question: “Based on your track record, don’t you think this may be too small for you?”


I have just answered, that even small IT projects can be quite complex. But looking back now, I rather should have my respect expressed more clearly. My respect for his courage calling his project humbly “small”. Because that project was considered of being part of a meaningful ambitious plan from the beginning, towards a real game-changing target, with non-negligible risks.


I think that wise and humble leaders must have the courage of cutting their large projects to smaller pieces. Even if they may do not get the same acknowledgement this way. Desmond Tutu once said: “there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” And exactly that is how it goes.


So, imagine of taking that one single step again. It is quite a small thing, indeed. But what if I say that I am talking about the one taken by Neil Armstrong on the surface of the moon?


Size, including technology, time, complexity, costs, or stakeholders are extremely important. But no project is too small. Because what counts the most are manageability, risks, and most of all: the gain.

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