On one recent assignment I was presented with a 28 page ‘project management plan’ document that did not add one cent to the value of the project (but added many dollars to its cost).
Despite its being derigeur, not every project or initiative needs to be "project managed" in the orthodox way. It depends on both the complexity and the length of the project.
For example, I’ve delivered quite extensive change programs with minimal project management overheads as the tasks are largely self-evident and require minimal planning, control and management. In TOP's Business Simplification Program, it is time-boxed to 14 weeks with set activities each week. Therefore, there is no need for planning, estimating or scheduling as this has already been done. The delivery risks are pre-known and the assignment is fixed price for the client (so financial control is not necessary). The only areas where project management could contribute value are perhaps tracking issues managing stakeholders and quality control.
Another example of a project not needing orthodox project management might be an office move of, say, 30 people across town. Planning and task scheduling would be valuable but many other aspects of project management might only be useful at a minor level as the project is too short and too simple to enable them to deliver much value.
One problem with some project managers is their belief that its ‘one in, all in’; that once you use one or two project management techniques you might as well use them all. But any project management tool should only be used if it will contribute to the business success of the project (in excess of the costs and overheads involved). If you can’t contribute in to the business value being delivered then project management techniques should not be applied.
The key lessons are that:
- project management is not the same as project delivery
- project management is not part of the value delivery stream
- but project management processes can contribute to the success of the project
- but the use and application of project management processes needs to justify the value it is contributing.
TOP's approach to project management translates the core project manager processes into value-contributing tasks.
When should project management be applied (and when not)?
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