What plan?

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

Do you have capable project managers in your business? I don’t necessarily mean people with the title “Project Manager” but people who know how to run a project.

Project Management is one of those things like marketing, or skiing, or hanging wallpaper, that look pretty simple to people who have never tried to do it. Only when they end up with a broken leg or covered in wallpaper paste (and marketing can result in both of these things) does it start to dawn on them that there might be a bit more to it.

This might explain why so many small businesses are so poor at running projects – even some of those who do have people called Project Manager and run projects for a living. Poorly-run projects can result in everything from a few wasted days of effort to a completely failed software implementation that materially damages a small business. If the project is customer-facing then delays and cock-ups can impact your reputation and customer retention.

In recent months I have worked with a client who is implementing an ERP in his manufacturing business – and has watched the project end date slip by a month every month for the last six months. At the root of his problems are a project manager who has never run a project before and a plan which was never a real plan but a sort of picture of what someone thought a plan might ought to look like. Another client in import/distribution has tried to implement a significant change in his business with no project manager at all; he was trying to co-ordinate various project activities himself whilst also running the day-to-day business. With a month to go to the completion deadline he has realised that there is no single view of what is complete and what remains to be done and the deadline has been slipping away since day one.

Neither of these businesses – growing, successful and well-managed as they are – need or can afford a full-time project manager. What they do need is a) a way of recognising “a project”, b) an understanding at the top of the business of how projects are run and how to avoid or spot problems early and c) either a temporary professional project manager or a trained and supported internal manager to run their one-off major projects.

For more advice and insight on projects, business change and developing your people you should attend this event.

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