“Trying to manage a project without project management is like trying to play a football game without a game plan.” — K. Tate
This is a great quote and anybody initiated to the dark arts of project management will agree.
But is it true?
Experience, seems to show, this is not always the case.
Outside the corporate world, many businesses do not seem aware that they are actually doing projects. If they don’t know they are doing projects, then they are unlikely to be using project management tools - how are they managing?
Getting things done
One of my friends was recently giving a workshop on project management to the senior management team of a rapidly expanding company. Part way through she was told,
‘We don’t do projects here, we just get on and get things done!
She was astounded by this comment. How could such a successful company expand without systems and processes for rolling out projects.
For them, new projects were seen as just a part of business as usual. She was then told,
‘We don’t have time to waste doing project management, we are far too busy’
The CEO explained, ’I don’t do projects, I just outsource the various parts. For example, if I want to open another shop, I get a builder to build it, the shopfitters come in the following week and we stock it over the weekend etc.’
This is at first seems fine and the company is extremely successful.
What they were doing was working for them, so why should they change?
This was cause for serious thought. The company is successfully implementing projects whether they knew it or not - but how?
Had they proved that project management is a ‘job creating’ device for keeping project managers in work.
Then my friend asked, ‘what if the builder is say one month late?’ It soon became clear that this was of little importance.
If the builder was a month late then the shoplifters simply started a month later etc. The shop opened some time later and everything was ok.
Timeliness of bringing in projects was not seen as a major problem.
Successful - who says so?
Later when we discussed the matter, we realised that success was a relative term.
Under the circumstances above, any project would be seen as successful if it was eventually finished.
But is that really the case?
All projects have 3 drivers
Lets assume that the above company was actually doing projects, (whether they called them projects or not!) and usually projects have 3 drivers (sometimes called constraints):
A well executed project should deliver the complete agreed scope, on time and within budget.
But in the real world events get in the way and the project manager has to negotiate with the key stakeholders what is the most important driver to them.
In the example, the key driver was scope.
It didn’t seem to matter if the project came in late because the loss of potential revenue and the extra cost in peoples time etc, was not taken into account.
Under such conditions anybody can successfully bring in a project - sooner or later!
Getting things done well
This business could only believe they were successfully expanding, because they were not calculating the costs of finishing late.
This is a luxury most businesses rarely come across.
From a project management point of view what are the extra costs, if the builder is a month late handing over the building?
If these costs were taken into account perhaps project management would not be seen as an unnecessary extravagance but a business necessity.
Yes they were getting things done but were they getting things done well?
If we take into account the cost of bringing a project in late clearly things could have gone better.
We can imagine two scenarios, one where the cost of finishing late is NOT calculated and one where it is.
Manager: it looks like the building might come in a month late
Boss: Ok, but keep your eye on those guys, we don’t want it to go any later
Manager: it looks like the building might come in 2 months late and we estimate this will cost, at the absolute minimum £180,000 in lost revenue and extra costs to us
You can fill in the rest but I’ll bet the building would have come in on time.
This whole story boils down to this - is it worth doing project management to not!
Ask yourself? Are you prepared to manage a project in the best way you can (using the best tools) to complete the agreed scope, on time and within budget?
Or would you like to ‘stick your head in the sand’? Think you are getting things done successfully and suffer the consequences to your bottom line.
I know which one I would take but you make your own choice….
Do you want to know more about getting stuff done the right way?
Send us a message and let us know!
This blog was jointly written by Karen @ Project Complete and Tony Henshall
All blogs are written by Karen @ Project Complete.