The objective is to create the mix of projects most likely to support the achievement of the organization's goals, aligned with the preferred strategies, and within the organization's resource (people and funding) constraints.
There are thousands of true stories that illustrate what is wrong with how most organizations determine which projects to approve. It is obvious that the pointy-haired guy (Dilbert's boss in the cartoon Dilbert) has gotten around. Here's an example of just one of these situations:
The company was a major manufacturer of paper goods. When it added a new project to the pipeline, the process began when a client of the paper company called her sales rep and asked if the company could provide a product to a new specification. The sales rep called the product line manager, who in turn called the development engineer responsible for that technology. The engineer decided whether he would like to work on creating a version of the product to the new specification. He has the option (solely on his own) to accept or decline the product line manager's solicitation. If he decides to work on the project, he has the right to draw on several of the firm's resources.
Here is what is wrong with this picture:
• The engineer has no idea how this modified product fits into the firm's strategies.
• He has no data on marketability or profitability.
• He has no process for performing a value/benefits evaluation.
• He probably hasn't considered the capability to support the revised specification.
• He has not considered risk issues.
• He is committing other resources, which may be needed for higher-priority projects.
• There really isn't a practice for determining project priorities.
What about the customer? Is she really serious about the revised product? Will she buy it at a price that is not yet determined? Will she take her business elsewhere if the current supplier does not deliver a new version? Can she get a product to the new spec from someone else? A development engineer would be unlikely to ask these questions or have the answers. Yet this information is essential in making the project decision and should be an integral part of the project selection process.
The project pipeline for this firm was a disaster. Resources were shifted from project to project, many of which should never have been in the pipeline in the first place. Resources were diverted from high-value, low-risk, strategically aligned projects to someone's pipe dream. Many of these projects never reached completion. Meanwhile, opportunities were lost and money was wasted.
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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.