Every business outlines goals with projects. These are merely codified paths toward a goal that benefits a business, taking into account resources and an end date. Projects can, of course, fail or turn out to be a waste of time. But, ideally, all are about doing well by the business. What we need to do is figure out efficient ways to manage these projects.
It might be a good idea to examine how projects fail. TechRepublic describes a few nightmare scenarios. For example, a toy retailer wanted to create a doll able to play pre-recorded music at the touch of a button. The music would be stored on a chip.
As they note:
“The problem was that the computer chips containing the music were sourced from Asia, and at the time there was a longshoremen’s strike on the west coast that held up delivery beyond the holiday season. The consequence? An unsuccessful project and several million dolls that sat in a warehouse unsold.”
How do such things happen? Here it was oversight no one considered: the international situation of foreign suppliers. Other projects fail when they’re entirely reliant on skills only one person has. If this person leaves, the project will fail. Projects go bust because the budget has been miscalculated. They fail because the resources are inappropriate or the interest has dissolved in the product or service being offered.
Good projects and project managers will never encounter these issues.
What makes good project management?
As most project management training will show, you need to have all your bases covered.
Key to a project’s success is having the right team. As research constantly shows, having a diverse team is key to that. People from different backgrounds – identities, interests, skills, qualifications and so on – all serve to round out overall knowledge. It’s gaps in knowledge which often lead to miscalculation and mistakes.
For example, if the toy company had someone with an interest in international affairs, or the Asian market in particular, there’s a chance they would not have invested in those particular chips for recording sound.
Equally important is having a Plan B. If you have a particularly important project, you can’t predict what might happen in the world. You can have the most diverse team in the industry, but not see, say, a natural disaster negatively impacting a market. By putting all your eggs in one basket, you stand to lose everything – even if you’re certain you stand to gain the world. Spare some resources for alternate plans should your current project fail. Set up an entirely different team. Or, better yet, have multiple projects, all of which benefit but none that will threaten the business.
It’s also essential to regularly check in with where everyone is. This is also where communication comes in. By having a firm grasp on the project’s current state, you prevent potential disasters.
(image source: Flickr)