Projects are somewhat similar to bored, naughty kids. If we leave them for themselves, something is bound to happen, but will it be something good? Each and every project requires a person to supervise it, it needs a plan, idea for implementation and also resources, proper budget and time. Sometimes we hear about a myth which states that the best projects do not require coordination because they implement themselves. If it were so in reality, the position of a project manager could vanish from payrolls in many companies. Projects like and need to be managed because thanks to this we have the confidence of their implementation, measurement of their goals and what is most important, meeting the allocated budget.
Why is it worth keeping the finger on the pulse?
The fact that projects are managed badly is unfortunately another affliction of this matter. This is so as on the one hand we have this assumption that none of them needs to be coordinated; on the other, we persist that keeping our finger on the beat is the remedy for all evil. It’s not exactly like that because even coordinated implementations may end up failing spectacularly. It is worth looking at some statistics. Primarily it is worth drawing our attention to the data on losses which occur during work conducted wrongly or poorly. In 2017 the USA government lost 32 billion dollars on IT projects which proved to be failures. Harvard Business Review went even further and analysed annual losses of all IT projects in the USA which do not come to fruition. This is even 150 billion dollars which are simply squandered just like that. 70% of all implementations do not come to fruition, but with proper change in an enterprise’s organisation and project management, this rate drops to 20%. Of course, there are many more statistics and data, you can have a look at them here. It is primarily about delineating a certain phenomenon which is very common and which enterprises are not able to deal with.
First and foremost, lack of project management equals poor management. Both cases usually strike with failure and loss which in some businesses are worth grand millions.
What guarantees good project management?
Each stage of implementation requires a leader who coordinates the tasks, delegates the obligations and, what is most important, watches the time of implementation. Supposedly even 80% of all tasks were not “handed over on time”. No management or poor management leads to the failure rate of 70% mentioned above. Project management primarily allows achievement of maximum efficiency and economy. Often new ideas arise during work, which allow to verify the current process and put it on new tracks, which may translate into e.g. acceleration of work.
Even the smallest tasks should be implemented in a project-like manner. Let’s take writing a text for a website as an example. This task requires preparation of a brief, writing a content on its basis, correction of the content, placing the text on the website – all within the set time. All we need to do is write out every stage in a simple calendar and we can talk about managing this task. A person supervising the work shall be the action coordinator, manager, responsible for leading the task to its completion.
The most important profits from skilful project management are as follows:
performance improvement – a project, similarly to the client’s travel map, is a sort of activity pattern. If we “lay it out” well, it will be easier to see at which stage we are currently on, if we are proceeding according to the plan or do we have delays or maybe we have already used up all of our resources,
increase in employees’ performance and boost to their experience – people engaged in a task are usually focused only this task only. No distractions an external factors mean that even very difficult projects may be completed much faster (if the publication about 5 days and the sprint has already been published, it can be linked here). In addition, working in a qualified team means that people with less experience can use the knowledge of their colleges, who more familiar with the topic,
building the competitive edge – well directed projects give control over planned and current actions, allow to quickly react to crises and find a way out of unplanned situations, thanks to which we can always be one step ahead of the competition,
increase in risk assessment – each plan assumes some risk of failure, there are also external and internal factors which can bring about its fiasco. Simulations of such events may help in their prevention,
improved communication among project team members – it is a fact that if the team works over one or even several project issues, it is easier for them to communicate. There is no big noise here, which is frequent in large organisations, especially between departments, which have very similar targets, e.g. marketing and sales,
measurability of effects and result assessment – this is one of the most important project features which are managed by the managers dealing with these tasks. At the beginning, the established effects may be assessed at the end of the work. The effects may be for example the number of obtained leads, the size of sale or the level of cost decrease.
What do we need to manage projects?
First and foremost, the methodology, knowledge and tools. There are many management schools and each one shows a different way to reach the goal. There are sprints, which take 5 days, there is lean, which allows to manage even with pruned resources, there is also blue ocean strategies, etc. No matter what style we end up choosing, the tools allowing us to perform the communication in a simple way and to verify the progress of entrusted tasks are also important.
In small teams, tools like IC Project or the not-so-complex Trello are enough, or even, at a push, Google docs with the folder in a form of a table where each person engaged in the work reports their progress. Large teams will rather use their own solutions or will choose paid platforms, e.g. Bitrix24, or will use the tools made by Microsoft, Comarch and other producers. It does not matter what platform we’ll use, it is important for it to match our needs and knowledge.
When we leave the children all by themselves…
However, what happens to all those tasks which are left alone all by themselves? Most of them simply disappear, go into oblivion, because no one is interested in them. Sometimes there will be employees who might “go the full distance” with them themselves. However, this happens very rarely, because many a time the level of remuneration in the company is not high enough to “do something above the average”. In most cases, such tasks become weird hybrids, little horrors which generate costs, use up resources but not bring any benefits at all. Let’s come back to those naughty kids who were left home alone and are bored. Sometimes they might come up with an idea and decide to prepare a dinner, but sometimes the entire kitchen may go up in flames. This is the case of projects which are left without control. It is good to keep that in mind.