“Can’t we just brief the team doing the work and manage them ourselves? It’ll be loads cheaper.” – This is interesting question from many clients.
Many client wonder if they really need project management because on paper it looks like an unnecessary tax and overhead as project managers don’t really deliver anything and often get in the way of what they want the team to do! So if all that’s true, why is project management important?
The truth is, running projects without good project management is a false economy. It’s often thought to be an unnecessary burden on the budget, and there’s no doubt it can be expensive – as much as 20% of the overall project budget. But can you afford to not have project management? Without it, what holds the team and client together? And without it, who is left to navigate through the ups and downs, clashes and catastrophes of projects?
Great project management means much more than keeping project management’s iron triangle in check, delivering on time, budget, and scope; it unites clients and teams, creates a vision for success and gets everyone on the same page of what’s needed to stay on track for success. When projects are managed properly, there’s a positive impact that reverberates beyond delivery of ‘the stuff’.
Why Is Project Management Important?
1. Strategic Alignment
Project management is important because it ensures what is being delivered, is right, and will deliver real value against the business opportunity.
Project management is important because it brings leadership and direction to projects.
Without project management, a team can be like a ship without a rudder; moving but without direction, control or purpose. Leadership allows and enables a team to do their best work. Project management provides leadership and vision, motivation, removing roadblocks, coaching and inspiring the team to do their best work.
Project managers serve the team but also ensure clear lines of accountability. With a project manager in place there’s no confusion about who’s in charge and in control of whatever’s going on in a project. Project managers enforce process and keep everyone on the team in line too because ultimately they carry responsibility for whether the project fails or succeeds.
3. Clear Focus & Objectives
Project management is important because it ensures there’s a proper plan for executing on strategic goals.
Where project management is left to the team to work out by themselves, you’ll find teams work without proper briefs, projects lack focus, can have vague or nebulous objectives, and leave the team not quite sure what they’re supposed to be doing, or why.
As project managers, we position ourselves to prevent such a situation and drive the timely accomplishment of tasks, by breaking up a project into tasks for our teams. Oftentimes, the foresight to take such an approach is what differentiates good project management from bad. Breaking up into smaller chunks of work enables teams to remain focused on clear objectives, gear their efforts towards achieving the ultimate goal through the completion of smaller steps and to quickly identify risks, since risk management is important in project management.
Often a project’s goals have to change in line with a materializing risk. Again, without dedicated oversite and management, a project could swiftly falter but good project management (and a good project manager) is what enables the team to focus, and when necessary refocus, on their objectives.
4. Realistic Project Planning
Project management is important because it ensures proper expectations are set around what can be delivered, by when, and for how much.
Without proper project management, budget estimates and project delivery timelines can be set that are over-ambitious or lacking in analogous estimating insight from similar projects. Ultimately this means without good project management, projects get delivered late, and over budget.
Effective project managers should be able to negotiate reasonable and achievable deadlines and milestones across stakeholders, teams, and management. Too often, the urgency placed on delivery compromises the necessary steps, and ultimately, the quality of the project’s outcome.
We all know that most tasks will take longer than initially anticipated; a good project manager is able to analyze and balance the available resources, with the required timeline, and develop a realistic schedule. Project management really matters when scheduling because it brings objectivity to the planning.
A good project manager creates a clear process, with achievable deadlines, that enables everyone within the project team to work within reasonable bounds, and not unreasonable expectations.
5. Quality Control
Projects management is important because it ensures the quality of whatever is being delivered, consistently hits the mark.
Projects are also usually under enormous pressure to be completed. Without a dedicated project manager, who has the support and buy-in of executive management, tasks are underestimated, schedules tightened and processes rushed. The result is bad quality output. Dedicated project management ensures that not only does a project have the time and resources to deliver, but also that the output is quality tested at every stage.