Your Key to Profitablility

Don Orton, Consultant

Don Orton, Consultant

Project management is one of the most most important keys to your company's successno matter what business you are in!  Most organizations have a number of projects going on simultaneously, whether the projects be revenue driven, or internal business improvement projects.  If projects are not done effectively and efficiently, they cost your company money and goodwill. The worst-case failure could lead to the failure of your business.

Project Management typically focuses on managing the 4 Cornerstones of Project Success: scope, cost, schedule and quality.

While these are all important, and there are some very sophisticated tools for managing project schedules and budgets (such as Microsoft Project), using the tools is not a guarantee of success.  Yes, you need project schedule visibility, which the tools provide, but even experienced project managers often focus too much time on managing schedules, and not enough time on managing the aspects of the project that actually determine whether you will stay on schedule or not.  

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Successful project managers do three things well:

  • scope management
  • risk management
  • learning from past projects

Project scope defines what the project will do, and also (often overlooked) what the project won't do.  As it turns out, poor scope definition is a major contributing factor to cost overruns, particularly in engineering and construction industries.  Poor scope definition, and poor management of scope changes results in scope creep (increases in committed features without commensurate schedule and budget relief).  This leads inevitably to cost overruns and schedule delays, and unhappy customers.

Risk management is simply defining what could go wrong, then constantly managing those areas to ensure that what could go wrong does not go wrong.   Too much time in project management is spent reviewing the schedule and budget, and too little time is usually spent clearly identifying risks, defining the consequences of those risks, and developing a risk mitigation plan for each of those risks.  Risks can be identified by conducting site surveys, reviewing contract documents, team brainstorming, or simply applying lessons learned from your own experiences.  There are many ways to mitigate the risks that you identify.  The more time you spend working in this area before and during your projects, the less time you'll have to spend explaining cost overruns and schedule delays.

Too few businesses actually learn from past mistakes and past successes.  It's been said that "failure is critical to success." How much time does it really take to review what worked and what did not at the end of a project?  We want to use the lessons we learn from analyzing our mistakes and our successes to improve the performance and consistency of future projects.  Always do a project "lessons learned" analysis immediately upon completing a project.  This is a key to future project success, but history shows us that you have to do it right at the end of a project or it won't happen.  Do it now, as they say!

Strategy1 will help you focus your project management activities on properly defining and managing project scope, properly identifying and managing project risks, and implementing lessons learned from all your projects. 

Here is to your success!