V IE WPOIN TS
The costs can be high for companies that don’t see the link between
business and projects.
BY GARY R. HEERKENS, MBA, CBM, PMP
When it comes to connecting the world of
project management to the world of business,
some companies just don’t get it—and many
of them pay a tremendous price.
Here are three examples of damaging practices—still
quite prevalent today—among companies that don’t fully
understand or appreciate the business side of projects:
1. Favoring tactics over strategy. An alarming number of
companies devote a tremendous amount of attention to
doing the project right and a surprisingly small amount
of attention to doing the right projects. Anyone familiar
with the legendary cost-influence curve is well aware
that its main concept is even more applicable to the
issue of project selection versus implementation.
There’s much more at stake when trying to select the
right project opportunities than there is during the
actual execution of projects. Even if it’s managed flawlessly, a project that doesn’t effectively address strategic
or operational needs can turn out to be a complete
waste of time and money.
it has become quite common in today’s project management environment. Perhaps I’m showing my age, but in
“the old days,” project teams estimated the time required
to complete a project based on careful planning. The
project’s completion date may have been adjusted, but at
least there was a basis for that negotiation between project
teams and their management. Many senior managers
and executives today apparently believe part of their role
is to determine the project completion date—without
really understanding what’s required to get the job done.
Although it’s true that some projects must satisfy a legitimate “drop-dead” date, I’ve seen this practice routinely
applied to all types of projects. Among the more obvious
impacts of this practice are chronically missed deadlines,
unfulfilled economic returns, unsatisfied expectations
and employee burnout.
THE BUSINESS OF PROJECTS
2. Pursuing projects on little more than: “Gee, this
seems like a good idea!” The true value of a project—
economically and strategically—can only be properly
established through a careful and thorough evaluation.
Time and time again, proposed projects that “seemed
like a good idea” turn out to be not so great after all.
The main reason is simple: Project investments are
almost always more complex and far-reaching than they
appear at first glance. Unanticipated risks can also sink
a seemingly good idea. In this situation, however, the
risks were unanticipated simply because no one took
the time to do any meaningful analysis.
Recognizing the Opportunity
All of these scenarios demonstrate that the road to sustainable improvement must be paved by senior management.
None of the practices could be changed or discontinued by
the typical project manager.
But as a business-savvy project manager, you can play
a critical role in trying to bring about positive change.
Whenever you observe such damaging practices, bring
them to the attention of the appropriate decision-makers. Seek to help them appreciate and understand
the price they are paying by not embracing business-based project management. If you’re successful, everyone
stands to gain. PM
3. Setting unrealistic deadlines with no project planning. Known as “time-boxing” or “the imposed deadline
syndrome,” this is a particularly damaging practice, yet
Gary R. Heerkens, MBA, CBM, PMP,
president of Management Solutions Group
Inc., is a consultant, trainer, speaker and
author with 25 years of project management experience. His latest book is The
Business-Savvy Project Manager.