A common aspect of my personal experience as project manager and product owner is being asked to achieve more than the competitors with less.
First of all, I think it is a great objective because it calls for efficiency and focus. Being myself a strong advocate for lean practices in every corner of the company I couldn’t agree more with this goal ! Also, having been certified in the DMAIC methodology, I am usually the one looking for waste and proposing solutions.
Fast forwarding six years from my first job to today, I can honestly say that achieving more with less has become one of my skills.
Like anything good, there is a limit that shouldn’t be reached or it becomes poisonous.
First, we must face the fact that finding innovative ways to reach the same objective with less resources is indeed consuming resources. At least time.
What happens is, instead of using :
- Proven tools
- World renowned methodologies
- Best practices
you spend time searching for solutions so that the company can save one specific resources.
Common examples include :
- Spliting a resource over several projects
- Using opensource technology to avoid paying a license.
- Developing a “quick and dirty” solution to deliver on time.
While every situation is different, we tend to think about the short term gains of such strategy and ignore the possible risks and side effects.
- Can the project be as profitable with a third of a project manager ?
- Are time and resources being saved when adapting open-source to specific needs ?
When we ask someone to achieve more with less, we must think that we are also bringing in risk and uncertainty about the global saving we are trying to make.
Being innovative in everything we do is exhaustive… That is why companies better focus their innovation effort on their value proposition. Everyday companies are loosing big trying to save little.
So what can be done to prevent such situation ?
When being confronted with such requirement, I personally conduct a quick risk analysis that I share with decision makers. It gives the opportunity to assess the situation at 360° and to speak up in a constructive way.
Because risk has its roots in every decision, managing the company risk level is everyone’s job