Project management is often viewed as an unnecessary expense and its value is unfortunately overlooked. To help make the right decision for your project, it is important to look at what project management is, what benefits it provides, and how it fits in the overall project. A six month project that goes over the original timeline by one month represents a 16% overage. Adding 10% to the overall project cost up front for Project Management may help reduce that overage or cut it altogether. Also, a 16% overage can have other negative effects on the company because it may delay other projects (the resources are tied up) and as a result, additional revenue may be lost. Therefore, it is important to find the right mix for a successful project between added cost and benefits.
So, how can project management help keep your project on track?
Project management follows a strict methodology that will allow the team to track every step of the project. Several methodologies also provide the flexibility to adapt to any particular project so it is not a one size fits all. Depending on the project and the goals you are trying to achieve, you may want to choose the Waterfall methodology, which is a sequential approach as opposed to an agile methodology which focuses on adapting to constant change of situations. All methodologies provide the structure that will lower the risk of failure or overage of your projects.
Proactive vs. Reactive
The project plan that is provided through the project management methodology allows the team to anticipate potential issues and to be proactive in resolving them. Project Managers will work with the developers and combine previous experiences with the current projects to look into the future and identify potential risks that could be damaging to the project's success. For each identified risk, the project team will need to provide a solution, and this process is tracked throughout the duration of the project. Anticipating potential risks and issues, and tracking them provides the ability to proactively solve these issues as opposed to reacting to them at the time they occur. Reacting to an issue is damaging to the project because it is a distraction that often occurs at a critical time. Anticipation allows the team to prepare ahead of time and implement a solution quickly.
Efficiency is key for the project's success because you want to stay within budget and timeline. You need to maximize the time available from each of your resources to achieve that goal. As discussed above, project management brings the needed structure to a project and the project plan is the backbone that holds everything together. It helps keep the project on schedule, avoid scope creep thanks to specific task assignments, avoid rework with quality control, avoid idle time with the right dependencies, etc. The project manager also provides direction to the project team, and assigns clear tasks to the right person at the right time so that there is no idle time from anyone on the team.
A project will only be successful if the product delivered works properly. A big part of the project plan focuses on quality throughout the project. References to quality are seen throughout the plan from beginning to end. The requirements need to be captured properly in order to move to the design phase. The design needs to be signed off before the development begins. The development consists of more than just building the tool. Testing throughout the development phase needs to be completed before the project moves to full testing and final delivery. These steps are clear in the different methodologies so if followed, the product will fulfill the quality requirements.
A project is not successful unless the client is satisfied with the final product delivered. A successful project will be delivered on time, on budget, and per the requirements. Project management helps increase the success rate of the project thanks to it methodologies, which in turns helps increase the customer satisfaction. The project plan includes multiple check points and signoffs that keep the client's involvement at its highest and the more the client is involved throughout the project, the better.
Project management will drive the project from beginning to end and provide guidance throughout. It provides tools to anticipate issues, find solutions ahead of time, and alleviate the burden on the team who need to focus on their tasks. Project management is not a guarantee that the project will be successful, but it increases the chances of success. Make sure to include project management in your next project!
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