Project Management – The Top 3 Problems

What is project management? Is it what you learn as a professional credential? Is it a set of skills? Or is it priorities? Defining what project management helps you be more effective in its application. So what is project management anyway?

So a project team often includes people who don’t usually work together – sometimes from different organizations and across multiple geographies.

“More specifically, what is a project? It’s a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. A project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources. And a project is unique in that it is not a routine operation, but a specific set of operations designed to accomplish a singular goal. So a project team often includes people who don’t usually work together – sometimes from different organizations and across multiple geographies. The development of software for an improved business process, the construction of a building or bridge, the relief effort after a natural disaster, the expansion of sales into a new geographic market — all are projects. And all must be expertly managed to deliver the on-time, on-budget results, learning, and integration that organizations need. Project management, then, is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements. It has always been practiced informally, but began to emerge as a distinct profession in the mid-20th century.”

Many forget that project management originally came out of the construction industry and the military institutions. So there are many aspects of project management that may not be applicable to how you manage your project. So much that projects can have a failure rate of 50 to 70%. See 21 Shocking Project Management Statistics That Cost Business Owners Millions Each Year.

Failure rates are ridiculously high when you go by the strictest definition of what a successful project is. The definition being that the project achieves all the outcomes, solves all the problems it was set out to do. That the project justifies its budget. The project justifies its existence. Projects fail because they are not tailored to address root problems created during change. These root problems involving scaling, information, and vocabulary.

Problem 1 – Scaling. Your project needs to scale. Scaling means that the effectiveness of the approach that you’re using increases when you add more people to project activities. This can be challenging because every time you add someone to a project there is a communication cost, coordination cost, and interpersonal cost. They need to share information. They need to be managed. They need conflict management. These costs can become exponential with the more people you add. Focus on these areas to keep these costs under control.

Clear accountability. Each person knows where their job ends and the others begin. They know how to work with each other.

Where does project management end and business analysis begin?

Balance the information load. Information volume coming to and from each core team member is at a similar level. No one is a bottleneck for project information.

Is everyone doing their own fair share providing information that complements each other?

Cross training. Each core team person is capable of performing the role of each other core team person. They can do the job, but may not be able to do it well.

Can the business analyst with assistance be the project manager?

Problem 2 – Information. Your plan was developed with insufficient information. While planning not enough information was gathered for the plan, requirements, or application domain. Only a narrow slice of information was gathered. Project requirements must be correct and complete before you start your project. To accomplish this, you need to review the requirements and restructure them when needed. Focus on these key areas for your requirements.

End-to-end. How objects need to behave is specified to close gaps.

Customer pays his invoice and his agent sends him a receipt to the customer.

Structure. Requirements follow strict semantics and hierarchies to close gaps.

Close gaps based on semantics…

Customer submits payment to agent. Agent sends receipt to customer.

Close gaps based on hierarchies…

Manage Customers

Manage Agents

Manage Payments

Customer submits Payment to Agent

Manage Receipts

Agent sends Receipt to Customer

Full life cycle. How objects are naturally used is specified to close gaps.

Close gaps based on life cycles…

Manage Customers

Manage Agents

Manage Payments

Customer views Payment
Customer submits Payment to Agent
Customer cancels Payment

Agent receives Payment from Customer
Agent reviews Payment
Agent stops Payment

Manage Receipts

Agent views Receipt
Agent sends Receipt to Customer

Customer receives Receipt from Agent
Customer examines Receipt

Consistent language. The same words are repetitively used to specify the same use, and behavior. Synonyms and jargon are not used.

Close potential gaps based on language…

Manage Customers

Manage Agents

Manage Payments

Customer views Payment
Customer submits Payment to Agent
Customer cancels Payment

Agent receives Payment from Customer
Agent views Payment
Agent cancels Payment

Manage Receipts

Agent views Receipt
Agent sends Receipt to Customer

Customer receives Receipt from Agent
Customer views Receipt

Problem 3 – Vocabulary. Your plan, requirements, and communications do not use common business vocabulary. Your language is extremely important for a project. It determines the scope and conciseness of activities, requirements, and expectations. Using jargon or technical terms can lead to misinformation, miscommunication, and scope creep. Scope creep is including and completing unplanned activities and deliverables for your project.

You have a process that the business calls enrolling customers into the marketing promotion. To shorten the name you propose to have people call it enroll into promotion and specify separately which promotion the project is for. The technical team refers to the process as adding customers. This isn’t used in communications because only the technical team calls it this.

There is so much to project management you can be lost. Focusing on these three problems will help you look at both the forest and the trees.

Remember. Never let yourself be overwhelmed within the weeds.

Chris Pehura
Chris Pehurahttp://www.csuitedata.com
DATA-centric Executive Management. Chris is a management consultant with a data emphasis helping Fortune 100/1000 companies strategically evolve and reinvent their businesses to maximize their revenue growth. Through realignment, to overhauls, to rebuilding things from the top down and ground up, he integrates and solidifies leaders, strategies, and solutions into all aspects of the organization. Strategies and solutions leverage Big Data, MDM, business intelligence, competitive intelligence, data science, chief data officers, and data offices. Chris is a coach, trainer, and the voice for how data is the new capital that drives, multiplies, and maximizes revenue growth.
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