There is the old saying that “you cannot manage what you do not measure” and this is especially true of project management, as project management is all about tackling a task or project often for the first time or certainly a variation of past activity and never a repetitious function. Day to day operations management can become a very familiar task where experience and gut instinct can be relied upon to get the job done and good communications and effective planning are a “desirable” and not an “essential”.
This is not the case with project management where a good plan, first class communication and focused team members are essential and the ability to flex the plan as issues arise are often daily realities.
- Firstly, there is the project planning and risk assessment where all the key staff, suppliers, customers and funders need to be involved in the plan’s development and sensitivity testing. It is certainly not a job for one person as this would be a recipe for a poor plan and one that will not have any real buy in by the team and stakeholders.
- Then there is the execution of the plan, as any plan will need to be amended as soon as the project commences regardless of how well the planning was undertaken. With a good plan these might be relatively minor amendments, with a poor plan it can mean a complete rewrite and that can cause loss of confidence by stakeholders and funders.
- This is where the excellent communication comes in as all the members of the team need to work closely together and share information and ideas as the project rolls out. Good communication must always be about focusing on ” what is right ” and not “who is right” and it is vital that principles and issues are challenged not personalities and individuals being attacked!
The goals of the project must be the deciding factor, not the passions, and at times, the almost obsessions of certain team members. This is particularly so in sustainable development projects where different team members may have certain passions and interests, be that some more committed to the social element, some more focused on the economic component and others on the environmental aspects.
I have observed projects that have wondering of the planned course as a passionate advocate for low carbon has hijacked the environmental component and even been so “mono focussed” as to argue the economic considerations are irrelevant and that even social factors must be suppressed in the drive for low carbon. In particular, I have seen this with sustainable development projects around renewable energies where the communities views and the impacts on other economic sectors are deemed to be irrelevant.
- So the key issues are:- good planning, good communication, but also selecting team members carefully and agreeing that the project goals and delivery combined with the a share vision ate the absolute priority over any one individual.
- After all it is the project that can only be delivered effectively by a team that plays and stays together as a team.