It’s a question that many companies wrestle with — why bother with Project Management at all? Let’s just all get to work and everything will get done that much faster. And cheaper.
Unfortunately, most companies do look at this question from an economic point of view. Why incur the cost of a project manager? Why incur the costs of project meetings? Let’s just get busy and save all that money and time.
But Project Management is important, and can save you time and money if used properly. Here are three major reasons why.
No one on the project team, other than the Project Manager, is responsible for removing roadblocks.
Roadblocks are, generally, not anyone’s fault. They are just things that occur, often at the intersection of two departments or between you and your vendors, etc. And so, almost by definition, no one has responsibility for resolving those blocks. Oh you can say to whoever is leading the project that it is their responsibility to clear those out, but the Project Leader has many duties and often clearing roadblocks ends up on the lower end of the list. Yet nothing so impacts a project schedule than these roadblocks.
Most people on the project team never even notice when there is a roadblock. They happen so often they are taken for granted. An afternoon here, a day there, three days on some, maybe two weeks on a few. But it all adds up to time and money thrown down the drain.
The Project Manager is the one person who is responsible for taking care of those problems. On his/her list of priorities, clearing roadblocks is in the top three. And the PM is generally the only one straddling different boundaries, making them the logical, and sometimes the only, one capable of quickly resolving the issue.
Scope Creep Control
I wont say scope creep prevention. Sometimes that is just not possible.
No matter what the situation, someone is going to suggest/ask/insist that the project team do something that the original project scope doesn’t call for. And at that point, you need to ask some questions.
What will the impact be on the project intent if this isn’t done?
What will be the impact on the project schedule and budget if it is done?
What is the bottom line benefit to the business of having or not having this?
So many people on the project team will have an emotional involvement with this request. So many people on the project team will be under internal pressure to support or dispute it.
It is quite possible that the PM will be the only dispassionate person in the group. The only one able to ask the questions that need to be asked and to present a neutral report on those answers to the group.
And isn’t scope creep always cited as the number one reason for project failure?
Most important of all, however, is the need to keep the focus on what needs to be done today. And only the Project Manager can do that.
To often project team members will be focused on events in the future. That, plus the fact that everyone thinks that if they fall behind today they can catch up tomorrow, or the day after that, or the day . . . well, you get the idea.
But the truth is, once you fall behind, you’re behind. Forget about catching up.
No one tries to fall behind. It just happens. Developers respond to an emergency. Or something just takes longer than they thought. Same thing will happen to engineers. Or marketing folks. The question is not will you fall behind, but how quickly will it be recognized and what will be done to mitigate it.
Enter the PM, stage left.
Despite what some companies think, Project Management is not icing on the cake. It is not something you do to appear that you are a first class organization. And it is not something you just drop when you need to quickly balance a budget. Like technical debt, going without Project Management will build up over time, build up in extra time and money required to get your projects done. And that is never a good project plan.