5 Project Management Principles
By this point, I hoped we have convinced you that project managers are critical to success (if not, please refer to “Benefits of Instituting Project Management” and “Project Management – What are you waiting for?”) as without an experienced project management team in place there are many things that can go wrong, such as:
- Inefficient, ineffective and stressed staff
- A project with no direction that can become unmanageable
- No idea where the project is against a schedule (if one even exists)
- Problems that are not addressed until too late
- Delays due to resource unavailability and unforeseen dependencies
- Issues not resolved, or the resolution not being the best option
- Risks turning into reality
Putting formal project management in place can help resolve these issues before they arise. But before you start hiring, keep in mind these five principles:
- It’s fundamental. Project Management needs to be considered a fundamental part of your business. A simple exercise demonstrating the benefits of Project Management should capture your management’s attention. If project management is not in place, then I would bet that the number of failed projects is higher than is acceptable. I define “failed projects” as those that were behind schedule, over budget and/or did not meet the expectations of the client.
- Project management is not a “DIY” type of function. Many organizations continue to treat the discipline of project management as a do-it yourself function. It is often looked at as working things out on an ongoing basis rather than what project management is actually about. It can be perceived as no value–add administrative tasks or as creating roadblocks to delivering quicker and with unnecessary cost. Specific to cost: when project costs (whether defined in dollars or man hours) do go array is often when teams (and clients) realize things should have been managed in a more disciplined manner.
- Adopt a standard project management approach and have a professional (not just by job title) project manager on board to bring in better results. This can be measured through increased stakeholder satisfaction, higher ROI, ongoing improvement in performance, enhanced communication and collaboration, and increased strategic alignment with the company’s goals.
- A project is essentially how an organization manages change whether it is technology upgrade, process redesign, multi-function campaign, or a website design. The same general rules apply. Project management is a discipline of execution. You are linking a strategic goal to performance through planning. By applying standard project management methodology and processes, an organization can improve the efficiency in resource management, reduce rework, eliminate no-value add activities, and achieve better control and coordination of effort on multiple initiatives.
- Working in harmony is key to completing successful projects where everyone’s roles and responsibilities are not only clearly defined, but are also formally documented and accepted. Once this is achieved, the next step is to determine and assign accountabilities and authority to facilitate effective decision-making. Project management keeps it all together by integrating all project activities and managing stakeholders to ensure that the project delivers the expected outcomes and communicates the right information to the right people at the right time.
- So the next time you hear someone say “professional project management is a waste of time and money; everyone can do projects,” ask them how many of their projects actually finished (not to mention on time!), cost what they were meant to cost and delivered what was expected. If they can’t answer quickly and confidently, you know there is a problem, which can only be resolved with a help of a project manager.