Every organisation works on projects designed to enhance its productivity. Project management is required to facilitate delivery of the multiple required outcomes. In essence, project management starts when a task is defined and follows it through execution to completion, including follow up and feedback on progress. This becomes even more essential when multiple teams must be managed.
In today’s environment, directors, managers, team leaders, business developers and others are often ‘elected’ as project managers, irrespective of having received any relevant training or accreditation. In many cases, these persons do not have the skills to manage project detail and miss out on the benefits of good project management – like on-time completion and predictable outcomes.
Established processes allow companies to define exactly what is required in order to execute the project successfully. This may vary from task to task, but can include the scope of work, stakeholder expectations, deliverables and schedules, subcontractors, commercial and legal compliance and claim management.
The identified tasks then all need to be successfully managed. If one or more of these critical components are neglected, it can result in a snowball effect with potential consequences to stakeholders.
It is thus key to have a defined structure for managing projects, as well as understanding the techniques that enable projects to be completed on schedule and within budget. There are five immediate benefits associated with good project management:
1. Improving productivity and reducing cost and workload
Efficiency is the goal of project management. This is done by creating procedures, templates and processes that establish the basic aspects of controlling the project variables. All procedures should regularly be revised and improved based on lessons learnt and adopted to each specific discipline /domain. This takes time and experience as well as meticulous documentation, but an additional benefit is that the same procedures allow risk mitigation and efficiency improvement. This efficiency improvement can be obtained by implementing some of the following methodologies: create a project plan that contains the key completion milestones on a clearly defined critical path; define the channel for formal communication between staff, contractors and stakeholders; and decide on an appropriate methodology (Agile, SCRUM, etc.) for project tracking.
2. Project management facilitates collaboration
If the deliverables/tasks are clearly communicated and defined in an organised and structured manner, all team members will know exactly what to do at any given time, thus making things easier and more efficient to manage. Roles must be clearly defined to avoid any unnecessary resource overlap. Periodic team checks must also be carried out to ensure everyone is on track or assist them should they have encountered problems.
3. Project management improves customer satisfaction
The goal of a project manager is to make sure that all elements of the project are running smoothly and on schedule. Customer expectations can be satisfied by implementing the following: listen to customer expectations and advise on alternatives or new possibilities; structure clear deliverables for their approval; always have the necessary documentation in hand; and identify the risks along with a mitigation strategy for each.
4. Project management improves performance
It is crucial to track project results and performance in an organised manner. Tracking allows the implementation of lessons learned from previous projects, thus improving current performance. Without a structured process it will be difficult to determine why certain aspects of the project failed or did not meet expectations. Outlined and predefined processes will allow project managers to identify variables that could compromise the deliverables of a project. Use a centralised communication platform for project management, tracking, reporting and change implementation.
5. Project management facilitates problem resolution
As the project evolves, one encounters obstacles and problems that must be managed.
A structured way of organising work can help identify and resolve these in an efficient manner before the implications have a chance to escalate. The implementation of risk management processes, clear communication platforms and regular project updates help mitigate the impact that actual and potential problems may have on a project.
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