Realising Business Benefits
Q: What is a project?
A: Projects are not 'operations' or 'business as usual.'
"A project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product or service.
Temporary means that every project has a definite beginning and a definite end.
Unique means that the product or service is different in some distinguishing way from all other products or services" PMBOK Guide
Q: Why are projects done?
A: In an organisational context, the purpose of doing a project is to create a product or service that contributes to the strategic plan and realises a target business benefit. This might result is projects being undertaken done to address a Market Demand, a Business Need, a Customer Request, a Technological Advance or a Social Need, the main reason for an Organisation to undertake projects is to make measurable contributions to their Purpose and Strategic Plan. Successful projects realise their target Business Benefits by achieving their project objectives in a timely and cost effective manner, and in doing so, contribute to the fulfilment of the organisation's Purpose and Strategic Plan.
Big Hint: It is really useful to have a living breathing Strategic Plan so the organisation knows where it is going.
Q: Are all of our current or planned 'Projects' actually Projects?
A: Probably not.
In most organisations, many activities that are called projects are not really projects at all. Unless it has a sponsor, agreed project objectives, realisable target business benefits, budget, a defined Start / Middle / End, assigned resources and forward momentum, your 'project' may be a non-project. It may be 'business as usual' masquerading as one or a number of projects (usually with completely different names being done by different parts of the organisation), or somebody's 'great idea' or ...
But it is not a project.
To avoid the very natural proliferation of 'non-projects' and projects that are not delivering on their objectives, from time to time it can be helpful to get an independent review of the current and proposed projects within your organisation.
Q: What is a Business Benefit?
A: A Business Benefit is a measurable and positive impact on profitability that results from some combination of revenue improvement and / or cost reduction over a defined timeframe. In the end, Business Benefits are about improving sustainable profitability.
Doing a project on time and within budget without realising the target business benefits is like performing a medical operation that is a brilliant technical success; except that the patient dies.
Q: What is Project ManagementA:
In the words of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK):
"Project Management as the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements.
Project management is accomplished through the use of the processes such as Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling and Closing. The project team manages the work of the projects, work that typically involves:
Competing demands for scope, time, cost, risk and quality.
Stakeholders with differing needs and expectations.
Identified and unidentified requirements.
It is important to understand that many of the processes in project management are iterative in nature. This is due in part to the existence of and the necessity for progressive elaboration in a project throughout the project life cycle. i.e., the more you know about your project, the better you are able to manage it." Q: Can projects be done successfully without Project Management?
You might get lucky with doing smaller projects from time to time. But as the number of tasks, people, scale, distribution and complexity of a project grows, project management becomes more and more essential to consistently achieving positive outcomes.
A Project Manager can typically manage a number of projects at the same time. As the number of inter-related projects grows, they can be usefully gathered together into a Programme; and this is where Programme Management can add significant value.
Q: What does a Project Manager actually do?
A: With effective communication, the Project Manager provides day-to-day management of the project tasks, resources and budgets to achieve the project objectives and deliverables within the agreed scope, timeframe and budget.
Project Management Role:
The Project Manager draws on project management knowledge and experience, and applies proven tools and techniques on a day-to-day basis to ensure that the project is completed on time, within budget AND fulfils the project requirements.
In a complex environment involving multiple projects, the Project Manager will typically report to and be supported by a Programme Manager
Developing, updating and managing realistic project plans and schedules
Establishing priorities for critical project tasks
Effectively managing day-to-day project operations
Advising the Programme Manager on:
- Project team organisation and training
- Application configuration and testing
- Technical infrastructure requirements
- System migration issues and requirements
- Interface and data conversion planning
- Change management requirements
- Process improvement opportunities
Controlling project scope and monitoring project work plans
Providing leadership and direction to project team leaders and members
Ensuring all project resources are identified and assigned
Managing tasks and coordinate resources
Reporting project status to the Program Manager on a regular basis
Selecting / supporting standards and approach according to which documentation is developed
Ensuring deliverables are developed and completed on schedule
Providing clear definition of expectations for deliverables and timing
Assigning integration application teams to develop design and configuration for application integration areas as needed
Establishing systems / procedures to monitor results against project objectives
Assisting the Programme Manager in developing effective work plans for the project team
Supporting the Programme Manager in preparing for team meetings and Steering Group reviews