By Joel Hoffman
Many organizations view project management as an afterthought. They become overwhelmed with projects and often realize too late that they need project management functions in their business/organization. Whether you have three employees or thousands, you must incorporate program/project management practices into your organization to be successful. Here is why!
It is important to know where you stand
It is easy to put blinders on and pretend that everything is okay. But the reality of growing as a business is to know the good, the bad, and the ugly. Are you early, on time, or late with delivery on specific tasks? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you may be in need of a project management expert. On the other side of the coin, if you are in the position where you are finishing tasks early, perhaps you have some room for growth and have the capacity to pursue additional work with the guidance of a project management consultant.
If you are underperforming, do you know why? Is it financing? Is your business growing beyond what your current staffing can handle? As you are making pertinent changes, you can also be proactive in making incremental changes, when appropriate (e.g., setting a realistic and feasible timeline for projects for your staff and clients).
Project management functions can help you proactively avoid failure
Project management also includes evaluating the level of effort for a project before it begins. There are few things worse than taking on a project beyond what your current staffing levels can handle. What is worse is finding out halfway into the project that you are struggling to meet deadlines. Therefore, when you complete a scope of work evaluation against the available resources, you can ensure that the business/organization has the capacity, enough budget and staff to successfully complete the project. A consequence of this action may mean making the decision to pursue external experts for additional resources.
Managing Scope Creep
Scope creep occurs when the requests of your client are not in alignment with the predetermined scope of your project. This can completely derail a project when not carefully managed. If you are contracted to complete ten tasks that suddenly become fifteen, how do you manage those competing priorities? Solid project management practices are a great way to avoid this overwhelming dilemma. When you know your business/organization’s position as it relates to staffing and resources, you can be equipped to do the following:
- Present tangible options/solutions to clients regarding when a task may be out of scope.
- Provide strategies that can be implemented to ensure progress to achieve the desired outcome(s).
Do you have the tools and staff to pass an audit? You may want to apply for grants, but do you have operational measures in place to qualify for them? How can you take tasks that you repeatedly perform and streamline them? What tools can you purchase to automate manual tasks? Ingraining project management into your operations can be transformational for your business. When you develop and implement good operational practices, confidence in the processes as well as staff become the expectation and not the exception. Additionally, your business will be well equipped to pursue and successfully obtain and maintain various grant opportunities. When relevant grant opportunities are available, your business will be well equipped to apply.
Upon performing an internal assessment, if the analysis indicates that your business does not have established project management practices in place, the time to start incorporating those practices is now. Doing so is not only an operational benefit but a financial benefit as well.