Too much project control is worse than little or non?

checklists, checklists, checklists

Too many projects fail to deliver what they promised. All projects encounter problems regardless of the skill of the Project Manager and the methodology used to manage projects.

A measured approach to a project problem or failure is to insist on checks or controls to prevent the same issue in the future. In a continuous improvement environment it is good practice to review the project process to prevent future issues.

But the knee jerk reaction to a project problem that implements a wide-ranging set of controls is counter-productive (and many businesses adopt this full scale 180° shift). We call it the ‘pendulum swing of process’ — just because one Project Manager on one project encountered a problem, every subsequent project has to be subject to the same control. Isn’t it better to start using radar to see all the potential beasts rather than the PM carrying a Mexican Coral snake trap and a Sicilian Yellow Aardvark gun etc.

The logical extension of this is an over-burdensome methodology that checks every project for everything. This pendulum swing of process will hamstring the best Project Managers and whilst it appears to offer control it delivers the polar opposite.

It is far more intelligent to set up a projects environment that suits the business and reflects the people working in it and the Project Managers. This approach recognises that businesses are different and want the correct level of control for their needs. A good example to highlight the difference employed between businesses is the transition from idea to project:

· Some companies will want to take an all-boxes-ticked approach — whilst this can suppress ideas it will lead to all ideas to projects being consistent

· Other companies will encourage departments to develop feasibility studies for their ideas that can be considered

· Some companies ignore this stage completely which can lead to projects by stealth. This does not stifle creativity and assumes controls will be imposed when the idea becomes a project

As businesses approach this activity in different ways it would be wrong to impose an over-burdensome regime as a result of a single project failure. A solution that was tuned to the business and the Project Managers would be much more successful.

In conclusion, it is critical to have a suitable level of project control for every business that matches the people and personality of the business.

Business projects still fail even though the company has moved from zero control with infinite flexibility to a comprehensive structured environment — it just takes longer to identify the problems and will frustrate the life out of those working on the projects!