Typically, by the time a business project actually is actually begun, the details around the activity have been planned for quite some time. These include the project scope, budget, financial support, resource acquisition, labour and contracted services, and any regulatory or permitting necessary. As a result, a business project will already have considerable limitations and parameters applied to get everything in place for implementation. It becomes the project manager’s job to then bring the project to fruition while meeting the same parameters or staying within their limits.
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Ask any experienced project manager and the first thing he will tell you is to plan for things to go wrong. Fluctuations, errors, bad planning judgment and incorrect assumptions about what is needed all come to play when the implementation process occurs. If the planning and budgeting phases did not account for contingencies or additional, unplanned needs, a project manager will then have to find other efficiencies in the project to make up the difference. This is where a good, seasoned manager becomes apparent because he will see the problem, adjust for it, and keep the project moving to completion.
Cost-creep is another big problem with business projects. When budgetary assumptions are made, they are point in time. If the financial planning does not include adjustments for inflation, many times the set-aside funding for the project will run short. This is where a project manager needs to always keep one hand on the activity and another on the check book. Good managing will find alternative savings by using budgeting software to identify cheaper materials or ways to trim down labour costs that the early budgetary planning may have overlooked. The manager can then use this uncommitted project money to offset cost overruns or as cushion for other unexpected problems.
If a project will rely heavily on contracted services, the project manager will have to keep a close eye on the entire contract process. Many times subcontractors will bid low just to get the work and provide their own businesses cash flow. Smart management will require bid specifications that force bidders to prove their capability and performance. Additionally, no money should be paid until specific contract metrics have been met. Every subcontractor should be held to a list of performance measures to earn any income in the project. Budgetary software can be a helpful tool in tracking contract deliverables. Finally, the project manager should anticipate that some subcontractors will fall through. In such cases, an immediate plan B option should be ready to go so that project is not significantly delayed.
Finally, experienced project managers never assume the final plan is final before implementation. Too often, business management changes its mind, causing related project specification changes. Project managers need to be flexible enough to anticipate these potential curves and find a way to incorporate them into the final project. Doing so will win the favour of the business management and could result in a higher pay-out for the project manager upon completion.
Project management is a fast-moving skill and good project leaders will anticipate problems that don’t appear during planning. They make the difference between a success and a financial boondoggle.
Further reading: Top project management software
As you said, flexibility and the ability to adjust are what help a good project manager see a project through – a good project management tool is usually needed to do help them see the changes before they come, and adjust to them in time. HappyTODOs does just that – prioritising tasks is done by dragging and dropping, time estimates are automatically changed based on added goals, and seeing what your team is working on is easier than ever. Best of all, it’s web-based AND free :) So take it for a spin!
Great article but I think what I took from it most was the word boondoggle, in my ignorance I’d never heard it before. Google:define showed me the error of my ways and I forsee it becoming a staple of my vocabulary from now on. Thanks!
Glad you took at least one thing away from the article! I was fairly pleased with myself for squeezing it in to be honest.
Thanks for the nice feedback!
A very interesting piece! I agree, in order to accomplish a great project the project manager needs to overcome many difficulties such as flexibility, cost creep and planning, therefore a good collaboration tool is definitely essential. Clarizen offers the project manager all the following: time tracking, task management, budget planning and much more. Here’s an article we posted recently about the advantages of Online Project Management Software.