The components of effective project management

For any new form of management to be accepted, it must be sold to those who do not yet believe in it. Until an organisation has had time to get used to the new way of working, apathy and cynicism towards its introduction are likely. It is common for the promoters of change to be subject to some friendly fire because not everyone will think as positively about project management as they do.

Project management has much to do with identifying and managing the risks a project may face. It can be unsettling for those who are used to solving problems once they have arisen rather than working in advance to prevent the problem arising. This is the essential difference between risk management and "issue" management and is central to the introduction of a project-based culture. Many people may be impressed by the hero who charges in to solve problems, but arguably those who studiously identify things that could go wrong and do a great job of avoiding the need to call in support deserve greater praise and assistance. These two extremes of character can be seen not only in individuals, but also in organisations. There are issue-managing and risk-managing organisations. The former encourage and reward heroics in managing current problems and challenges. The latter praise those who seek in advance to mitigate the likelihood or impact of those problems and challenges. Project management is more effective in an environment that supports the management of risks because this gives the organisation greater control over its fortunes.

This is not the only challenge that promoters of change face. Effective project management, like any form of governance, brings with it a necessary element of administration needed to control the project. This too will be challenged by those who object to the introduction of a new way of working, procedures, routines and regulations. Care should be taken that the administrative measures are not stifling and are light enough to ensure that the right decisions are made by the right people at the right time, and that the value of them is generally understood.

Sooner or later (probably sooner), the cost of introducing a new form of management will be questioned and a budget will be needed if the benefits are to be enjoyed. Senior managers have a great many priorities on which to spend scarce resources so the money being spent on embedding project management must be promoted as an investment with a planned, measurable return. In other words, embedding the principles of project management within an organisation should be managed as a project in itself. This will help mitigate some of the challenges identified above.

Any attempt to alter opinions or working practices will face difficulties. If the approach being described here is considered along the lines of changing a culture, the following risks identified by John Kotter in his book Leading Change will be those to be mitigated:

e there is no sense of urgency;

e a powerful, guiding coalition is not adequately created;

e the programme lacks clear vision;

e the vision is poorly communicated;

e essential change is prevented by a will to protect the status quo;

e short-term wins are not systematically planned or delivered;

e victory is declared too soon;

e changes are not anchored in the organisation's culture.

Later chapters consider these risks, especially how a case may be made to introduce effective project management. But throughout the life of a project it is important to remind those involved in and affected by it of the value that effective project management can bring, both in increasing the chances of the project being successful and the organisation benefiting, and in reducing the chances of its failing and the business being damaged.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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