Inadequate Project Management Processes

Project management is often seen as an unnecessary element and something that can be achieved just by monitoring the project budget. By just showing expenditure and comparing it with budget, you have no idea how much work has actually been performed. For example, it is usual practice to assume that if we spent 51% of the budget the project is 51% completed.

The methodology is still used as standard operating procedure by most Prime Contractors; it is a practice that lacks accountability measures.

Anyone involved in managing a seismic project will probably have had the misfortune to have been involved in or to have known a project that failed. Careers can be destroyed; blame is apportioned by everyone to everyone else; relationships break down; trust is damaged, and people who were friends become strangers.

Individuals involved in an unsuccessful project first attempt to justify their intentions and actions, ignoring the real reason for failure. This is precisely why many companies and individuals repeat similar mistakes in regular intervals. An analysis of the cause of the project failure can constructively provide the connection between ill-fated actions and project results. Companies who shun such healthy discussions often repeat the mistakes. Most often they make allegations against others trying to shield their own mistakes. Experts consider this is a suicidal approach. It provides only temporary relief, blinding the repercussions of failure. The ability to take a step back and analyze the cause of the failure becomes a hard proposition for many companies. Why? Most of us want to hear what pleases us. Analyzing failure is therefore an exercise that most people feel deserves to be pushed under wraps or passed on to others. People seldom recognize the gain in scrutinizing failure since it would only expose weaknesses and unpleasant experiences and it is in everyone’s interest to move on.  

The causes of failure in seismic projects are identical in all of those 73% failed projects; in fact it appears like somebody wrote a well documented manual of “Fourteen Rules to Guarantee Project Failure".


The principal causes of failure include, in no particular order:

  1. No Project Management Best Practices

  2. Absence of a Detailed Project Plan

  3. Issues regarding the project is approached from Operational Management point of view instead of Project Management point of view

  4. Sloppy scouting reports with inferior documentation

  5. Using deterministic estimates of task duration instead of PERT

  6. Weak ongoing management

  7. Using Accidental Project Managers with no formal training and experience in the Project Management Discipline

  8. Inadequate tracking and reporting

  9. Inability to forecast the project outcome while the project is only 15% to 20% in its progress (to bring, if required, the project back on track, CPI and SPI)

  10. Not reviewing the project progress regularly or diligently enough

  11. No work packages and clear directions  that coincide with the main project plan (directing sub-contractors in accordance with the detailed project plan)

  12. Ineffective time and cost management

  13. No risk management in regards to project (what if?)

  14. Lack of leadership and/or communication skills by an Accidental Project Manager

There is much much more to project failure, but the above fourteen are the most common contributors and reasons of 73% seismic exploration projects fail.


So if organizations know the human reasons for failure; the project reasons for failure; the technical reasons for failure (and these are already well documented in the literature); and still they continue to allow projects to fail, then the question is not "Why do projects fail?", but "Why do organizations not learn from project failure?"



The key to a successful project is in the planning. Creating a detailed project plan is the first thing you should do when undertaking any kind of project.


 A common problem discovered at the planning phase, is when a project has an imposed budgetary or timeline constraints by the project sponsor and it is not realistic based on your estimates.

What do you do?

Learn three powerful options that will bring the sponsor on your side... every time


Our workshops are designed to help organizations and their accidental project managers to realize that Real-World Project Management really does offer a better way of managing seismic projects than just "getting stuff done."


Planning should be done by a person knowledgeable in the project management discipline and with overall experience of seismic exploration operations. There are certain rules in planning; they are applicable to the project management discipline and not to operations management. The close cooperation of the  operations manager and the project manager will ensure successful completion of the project that will retain the desired profit margin of the prime contractor and ensures that the project will be completed and delivered as promised, according to the plan. If you don’t have a plan you cannot control and if you aren’t in control, you will soon be told about it and steps will be taken to get you in control or to get you out of the way.


Microsoft Project is a powerful tool and very effective in controlling costs, tracking progress, performing Earned Value analysis, and keeping projects within budget and on schedule.

With simple inputs by the project manager into MS Project you will be able to develop a detailed project plan utilizing Risk and Earned Value analysis...

You do not have to be a statistical wizard

Contracted team members present the project manager with a number of problems and he/she must be aware of the implications to the project.

By attending our workshop you will learn which five areas must be closely watched.


We identify 14 principal reasons of failure on actual seismic project(s)

 and show you

 7 reasons why projects succeed!      



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