Why is project management important? It is important because businesses run on projects. Projects are needed to execute strategy. Some organizations may not refer to them as projects, but whatever they are called, they usually meet the definition of projects.
Project management can be expensive. I often advise that it should be around 10-20% of the overall project budget, as a rule of thumb. A frequently asked question then is do we really need project management? Is it really important?
The short answer, yes definitely. It is not just necessary, but critical to success. Done well, project management should be able to shepherd projects to completion at a far lower cost than projects moving forward with chaos. Here are 6 ways that project management saves time and resources, leads to higher levels of project success, and demonstrates its importance.
Strategic Alignment: Simply stated, one of the first and foremost benefits of project management is that it makes sure that the right work is being undertaken to deliver on strategy. At every stage of the project, good project managers make sure the projects are delivering as expected. If your organization suffers from a gap in executing on strategy, you may want to check out the Brightline Initiative, a partnership between the Project Management Institute and leading corporations to close these gaps and improve on delivery of strategy.
Realistic Planning: Projects led by project management professionals benefit from more realistic planning. Realistic planning, in turn, ensures the project team has a roadmap to complete the project as close to on time, on budget, and on scope as possible.. This means that projects become more predictable, a benefit of project management we looked at last week. With greater predictability, senior management will know how to best move resources and initiate projects to accelerate the delivery of strategy.
Motivates the Team: Good project managers know how to choose good teams. The best team members are those that have the skills to do the work, really want to do the work, and have an outside network that can help. Good project managers will also motivate the team, especially during project execution. Communications is an important skill supporting motivation and acknowledgement is an important communications practice.
Tracks Progress: Without at least some rudimentary form of project management in place, it will be impossible to track project progress. Each week, the project manager will measure progress on budget, schedule, and scope, and make sure the team is following the project plan, the roadmap to complete the project. Details can be found in an earlier article, Timing of Status Information Counts. When progress gets off track, project managers can take the steps necessary to get everything back on track.
Provides Decision-Quality Data: The information generated by realistic planning and progress tracking provides quality data for use in decision making. The data provides a deep understanding of the project progress, including successes and failures, and enables decision makers to make more informed decisions about resources, staff, and more. The data is also usable for forecasting, so if a project gets off track, the new budget, timeline, or scope is predictable.
Saves Time and Money: With realistic planning, progress tracking, and decision quality data, projects save organizations time and money. Bottlenecks and other road blocks are quickly detected and removed. Newer, better ways of completing work are discovered and encouraged. And as we've looked at in the past, a special benefit of project management is increased creativity and innovation.
With all these benefits, effective project management can often pay for itself. If you are an organization, be sure to start accruing these benefits by engaging a well-trained professional project manager. And if you are an individual exploring a project management career, be sure you continue learning to be able to offer these benefits to your projects.
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