What does project management have to do with cooking? Well, they both involve processes that can be broken down into a series of steps. And certain steps in these processes must occur in order to achieve a desired outcome—whether it is a large and complex technology implementation or your favorite hearty stew. But, both also involve a bit of creativity and the ability to adapt to tools and ingredients that are in the kitchen or, in the case of a large, complex technology implementation, part of the organization’s culture. The trick is to focus on the key components. Adapting your project management methodology based upon your organization’s culture is just as important as choosing the right team members or employing a holistic approach when it comes to a project’s probability of success. It takes forethought and skill to manage projects by assessing risks, tracking issues and staying on your critical path. Here are a few things to consider:
- Focus on the Project Objectives. Everything surrounding project management needs to be focused on the project’s objectives. Tools in and of themselves do not guarantee a successful project delivery. Choose the tools that fit the organization’s culture and project objectives.
- Factor in limitations. Make sure time estimates are based on the “most- likely scenario” and not the “best-case.” Resources, technology, and people have limitations and so this potential for delay should be factored into the schedule.
- Build in your resources. By adding information concerning crucial resources and the possibility of additional resources, if the need should arise, allows you to determine cost-benefit analysis before the project has begun.
- Fix small problems before they snowball. Small delays in the task schedule can build upon one another quickly, threatening the successful project delivery. Manage issues by shifting resources, changing processes, or tweaking float time, while problems are insignificant to avoid major impact.
- Nothing can replace solid management. Large and complex implementations require much more than a schedule or action plan. Identifying the key components, though important, is only a part of a project’s probability for success. It is the management team’s ability to think clearly and critically in order to assess true risk and create an effective mitigation plan that will have the greatest impact on delivery.
Just like creating a savory stew from the key ingredients on hand, adapting your project management techniques can help your project team produce the results you expect and avoid an over cooked mess.