I commonly hear people say "Does Project Management Matter, we just need to book in some people to do some work, what could go wrong?"The fundamentals of managing a project from start to finish require a team of individuals with different skills, talents and abilities at various different times and their work all needs to come together to achieve one end goal. When it is worded like this it all of a sudden becomes far more realistic and can become a daunting task.
A good project plan can mean the difference between success or failure, so isn't it worth thinking about?
It can be a difficult job and quite time consuming, however here are 10 reasons why I think that it is important:
Projects are naturally chaotic! - The primary business function of project management is organising and planning projects to tame this chaos. A clear path mapped out from start to finish ensures the outcome meets the goals of your project.
Plans are necessary - Without a schedule, a project has a higher probability of delays and cost overruns.
A motivated team = higher success rates - I'm sure that we can all think of a time when the project team seemed be working against each other. Was that project managed well? A poorly managed project can divide a team, cause conflict or make people doubt each others abilities. A project should brings people together to share ideas and provide inspiration and create a joint feeling of accomplishment. Collaboration is the cornerstone to effective project planning and management.
Maximise your resource - Resources, whether financial or human, are expensive, so it makes sense that a business wants to make the best use of it. By enforcing project management disciplines such as project tracking and risk management, all resources should be used more efficiently and economically.
Manage integration - Projects don’t happen in a vacuum. They are likely to need to integrated with other projects, business processes, systems or organisations. How many times have you heard someone in your office say "I didn't know that we were meant to use that system now" or "Why didn't anyone tell me about this?". A well managed project should ensure that any integration or overlap are considered.
Controls cost - Some projects can cost a significant amount of money so budget management is essential, especially if you are delivering a project for a fixed cost. Using project management strategies greatly reduces the risk of budget overruns. Normally Project Managers should be able to predict risks to budget and still have enough time to implement a resolution, or at least review any alternative routes forward.
Manage change - I believe that this is one on the most important parts of project management, if change isn't managed then the knock on effect can be disastrous. Changes are an inevitable part of a project. In the last few days I have been notified that a third-party supplier can no longer be on site on the dates previously scheduled, a specialised engineer is only available for the next 3 weeks (which is before I need them) and a project end date needs to be brought forward. Managing change is a complex and daunting task, but should be embraced not ignored. A change management process should be agreed before any work starts.
Retain and use knowledge - Projects generate knowledge (or at least they should). Knowledge represents a significant asset for most businesses. Left unmanaged knowledge tends to quickly fade, yet it is quite easily ignored or forgotten if a project isn't managed properly.
Learning from experiences– Sometimes projects do have problems or fail, project management doesn't guarantee success, but it can help improve your chances. When problems occur it is important to see them as a positive and turn them into a learning experience. Project management ensures that lessons are learned from project success and failure, then the good points can be repeated and the negative can feed into process improvement.
If it's not working, stop it! - Once you have started a project, it's hard to take a step back and question it, however it's an important part of project management. It's OK to put a project on hold or even stop it completely if it's not working, or if it's no longer going to deliver the expected value.
So, next time someone says "This doesn't need project management, we just need to book in some people to do some work, what could go wrong?", how will you respond?