Project managers and processes. Hard to think of one without the other. Most project managers have received some level of project management training. In many project management training classes, there’s a lot of focus on the flow of processes in the project life cycle. Because of this focus should project managers be process oriented?
The Value of Process
There’s something safe in following a proven, repeatable process. That’s what most organizations hope to achieve with their project management methodology. Most organizations conduct a retrospective or lessons learned as part of their methodology so if something isn’t working, it can be fixed. This continual improvement of the methodology is a process of itself.
Customers trust their project investment to an organization that can provide them with the process that will be used to manage, control and implement their project. Company leadership look for a defined process to help them determine if their project will provide positive ROI for the funds invested. Project Management Offices look to processes for metrics to measure PMO performance. Is there a possibility that processes may actually be a burden, causing us to waste valuable resources?
Process Burdening Agility
Every process should have a goal or purpose or create a deliverable. Why else would you do the process? When you study the reasons for failed projects, one of the primary causes is that sound project management practices (i.e. processes) were not employed. This could be the result of burdensome processes being abdicated for a ‘just do it’ approach. This could be the sign of a power mad PMO that embraces a directive to comply with too many processes.
This approach does not add value and does not provide a project management process that allows for flexibility. This type of methodology ‘process for processes sake’, slows down project progress and impacts the morale of the project team. In response, project managers may take their own approach and ‘just do it’! This can negatively impact an already troubled project.
So Just Do It Works
It might work, providing the project manager knows what ‘IT’ is and is allowed to do ‘IT’ the right way. How is ‘IT’ a repeatable process? How does the rest of the team proceed? The project manager would need to communicate each step to ensure ‘IT’ was done correctly. And if ‘IT’ is not, who takes the heat? This is very risky!!
The ‘just do it’ approach may work when you have encountered a problem that has not arisen on any prior project. The project team will need to be creative to create a workaround or a permanent solution. Either way, they are ‘just doing it’ for that isolated incident and should get back on track once solution is implemented.
The solution to the problem will be discussed during the project retrospective or lessons learned. The processes will be adjusted as part of the continuous improvement process for the project methodology. But ‘just do it’, or project management by the seat of your pants will never be the methodology of choice. I am positive your company would not want to invest in any projects that were managed with that approach.
The Right Amount of Process
As each project is unique, so should the processes used to manage, control and implement the product of the project. Negotiate which processes are necessary with your key stakeholders and document those that are deemed low value or non value work as out of scope. Be able to measure the agreed upon processes so you can validate your performance.
I think that project managers will need to have a process orientation to understand how to maneuver amongst the project processes and know how to use them to drive their project to success and provide metrics on performance and achieved value/benefit.
Would you agree with that assessment?
© 2011 Gwen Miller. All Rights Reserved