Importance of Project Management to an Organization
Project management costs can run pretty high. As much as 20% of the overall project budget. However, not all project owners are convinced that this function is necessary to ensure the successful delivery of a project. Many view project management teams as an obstruction when they want to communicate or take direct control of workers on the ground. Their costs are also often viewed as an unnecessary overhead.
In reality, there is great value achieved when good project management is in place. While ensuring a project is delivered on time, within budget, scope and quality is a big part of the justification for this function, there are other key reasons to make this investment.
- Provides Leadership
For a project to be successful, there needs to be someone that provides leadership. Someone that can give direction, provide inspiration and motivation, guidance on how to overcome challenges, and even mentorship.
Project managers are leaders who can provide all this and ensure accountability. They take charge and are responsible for whatever tasks are under their purview. They monitor the activities of team members to ensure productivity targets are being met and take corrective action when required. These leaders understand that the success or failure of the project rests on their shoulders.
- Strategic Alignment
With every project, there are strategic goals to be achieved. When we outline a project, it is so work can progress towards achieving the said goals. Project management ensures that projects plans are aligned to meet the client’s expectations of the project. This function is important in ensuring expectations are delivered as or better than expected, adding real value to the business.
Planning alone does not however mean success. As the project is ongoing, there is the potential for threats to emerge. Good project management is used to address such dangers and ensure the project is steered back on course to achieve the strategic goals. Being flexible and adaptable in a changing business environment are valuable traits in project management.
- Brings Clarity and Focus
It can be difficult to understand how subtasks contribute to the overall achievement of strategic goals. When work is left to teams, there is a lack of focus and direction. Strategic goals and objectives become vague concepts and often leave team members confused as to what they should be doing or why.
Project managers have a comprehensive understanding of what needs to be done and can break down the project into its tasks, providing teams with guidance, resources and timelines to adhere to that will ensure delivery. Breaking down work into small tasks helps bring focus to teams, spurring them into action that will result in goals being achieved.
Project managers undertake risk management to ensure that if conditions change that could derail work, measures can be taken to get teams back on track. The same applies if the goals of the project also happen to alter. Project management ensures that ongoing work remains focused on achieving the client’s objectives, whatever they may be at any given time.
- Project Planning
It is not uncommon for a client to have overambitious plans in seeking to actualize their goals and vision. They may set unrealistic deadlines, allocate inadequate resources, and make other mistakes that result in unfeasible projects. Good project managers know how to discern the quality of a project plan and temper the expectations of stakeholders.
They can advise and negotiate on various aspects of project plans, turning them into feasible undertakings with realistic timelines. They ensure a practical schedule is developed, with suitable resources matched to achieve targets. Promising unachievable deadlines can compromise the quality of work and the project’s outcome.
- Quality Control
When compromises are made, quality suffers. There is often much pressure to complete projects within certain deadlines. Without the right leadership, projects can often become compromised as lower-level employees cave to demands. Project managers have stronger authority and support from management and other stakeholders which makes them less likely to accept shortcuts that could affect the quality outcome of the project.
Quality management is provided by ensuring tasks are allocated sufficient time and resources for execution. Project managers oversee these functions and also arrange for output to be quality tested at every stage. They ensure quality assessments are done during each project phase before work progresses to the next stage. This assures good quality, ROI, and applicability are delivered.
- Risk Management
Risks are inherent no matter the type of project. Avoiding mention of them does not mean you can evade them. Good project managers take the lead in identifying, managing, and mitigating risks before they escalate and threaten to derail a project. They take a hands-on approach to analysing the potential for risks and planning contingencies for dealing with them.
Risk management however also calls for some level of adaptability as not all risks can be predicted. Project management plans should be flexible enough to adjust to change and still successfully complete projects.
Projects are completed successfully when you have the right people paired with the right resources at the right time, throughout the project life cycle. Proper planning is required to ensure projects are organised to carry out work smoothly. Poor planning can lead to reactive processes that may create inefficiencies and cause teams to become frustrated.
With good planning, team members can be more confident of what, how and when they perform tasks. Their roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, appropriate resources allocated, processes outlined, risks mitigated and quality control checks implemented. Streamlining work helps provide alignment with strategic goals and an easily understandable process for how project success is to be achieved.
Project managers are responsible for overseeing, tracking, and reporting on project progress. This can be tedious work but assures stakeholders that the project is moving along as expected. Status reports are provided to stakeholders to provide insights on how far along the project is, resources used, milestones achieved,
This continual monitoring is also helpful in detecting problems as they emerge and remedying the situations before they escalate. This helps keep the project on track while making it possible to build trust with stakeholders who are kept aware of progress through regular communication. A good project management software can help a great deal with “oversight” of a project.
Project managers will have the requisite technical skills and knowledge for their field of expertise. This makes them qualified to manage projects as they understand what work needs to be done by whom in the team. They are familiar with the systems and processes to be used and likely limitations and threats that can emerge.
This makes them suited to offering direction and advice to their teams and stakeholders. They can speak from a point of experience and effectively communicate issues concerning the project. Their understanding also ensures that there are no gaps and that work is successfully completed at every stage. This subject matter expertise enables project managers to keep teams focused on reaching the project’s goals.
- Learning from Past Successes and Failures
At the end of a project, the project manager will need to review their performance and note the lessons learned from their experience. Effective project management requires building on previous experiences to improve performance on future projects.
Organisations can use the documentation generated from such reviews to ensure that their subsequent projects avoid mistakes identified and build on the successes achieved. This is a valuable learning opportunity and should be a part of kick-off meetings for new projects. Through retrospection, there are improved chances of success for later similar projects.