As a result of the economic slowdown, many firms are very carefully watching how they spend every dollar. This means that there is more scrutiny than ever by our prospects regarding our consulting and implementation proposals. In fact, in an effort to cut project costs, our proposed project management time (or a significant amount of time) often ends up on the cutting room floor. Why? The usual excuse is that project management “just doesn’t matter,” or “doesn’t matter that much.” Does project management matter? And how much project management is necessary for project success?
Last Sunday, the Washington Post reported on a recent Stanford University paper, Does Management Matter? Lessons from India. In this study, large textile manufacturing plants were given free best practice management consulting and compared with a control group. According to this study, project management does matter. The consultants increased the average plant’s productivity by about 15% and profitability by 24% per year. I strongly believe that this studytranslates directly to project management, and when properly applied, is a necessary and critical component of any project, no matter what size.
As a Project Management Professional (PMP), I’m obviously very passionate about properly applied project management and careful adherence to Project Management best practices or PMBOK. Published by the Project Management Institute as the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), it lays out project phases, processes, and knowledge areas. At RightStar, we apply these best practices to ensure that projects are completed in the allocated time. Of course, we could do everything right and still end up with an unhappy customer. We still need to demonstrate though leadership throughout the project.
How much project management time is necessary? At RightStar we will plan for 10% of the total hours for small one to two week projects and up to 20% for larger projects. For a small project, the PM should set project objectives, build the project plan, assist with the kick-off meeting (remotely), follow up with the consultant daily and communicate with the customer at defined intervals, at least mid-week, end-of-week, and at project acceptance time. The PM should also be available for any troubleshooting.
For larger projects of more than two weeks in duration, the PM should participate in person at the kick-off meeting and communicate at least daily with the project team and customer. The PM should also track the earned value project status. Earned value measures project status in an objective fashion. It is much more than saying, “we have used 90% of the project dollars, therefore we must be 90% complete.”
As an IT consultancy, RightStar is dependent on consulting and implementation service revenue. Careful attention to project management best practices is a critical success factor and we need to push hard to ensure that project management time stays in the project.