The what, why, how and who we do in project management relies on planning within the organization. Not every proposed project should be a project. Not every proposed project should become effort that our organization puts forth. Not every proposed project is worth the money that it would require. And not every proposed project makes sense for what our organization is trying to accomplish this year or ever.
What I'm talking about is planning strategically what work we should be doing going forward to make sure that we are spending money properly and in accordance with the goals and plans of our organization. Strategic planning. Without it, we are just doing whatever is next on our plate and that’s a bad way to go about doing business. So what do we need to do? Here are my top 5 for planning strategically what we will do and when…
Is it worth the budget?
The project may make sense in terms of what we will get out of it, but it may not be worth the money we’ll have to spend to get there. Think of it as ROI – or return on investment. Some projects are necessary even if you’re going to lose money on them – because at the end of the day you’ve acquired a new customer for other future and more lucrative business. Or because it places you in a particular situation that your organization wants or needs to be in. Or you now have acquired new skills or expertise because of it. And then again some projects just aren’t worth the money it will take to make it happen and they just don’t make sense.
Is it a good fit?
Next, is it a good fit for the organization and what you want to accomplish? Don’t take on a one-off project that will gain you experience you’ll never need again – unless, of course, it’s very lucrative. Don’t take on a project that doesn’t fit well with the goals for your organization or that conflicts with other, more important, projects that are happening right now. Look at the project landscape for your organization and ask, “Is this new, proposed project a good fit?” Not all are, no matter how much money you’ll make on them.
Is now the right time?
Perhaps right now is not the right time for a given project. Look at your project portfolio and the priorities you have at the moment. Does this project make sense this quarter or even this year? Maybe it doesn’t. It all depends on several factors including time, money, priorities, fit and customer relations. This one requires analysis but you have to look at it for every project. “No” may not mean an absolute “no”, but it may mean “not right now.”
Do we have the right people?
Next, do you have the right people to pull off a particular project right now? If not, this could mean you should never take on the project…or it may just mean that right now is not the right time because key necessary resources are tied up on other projects. Next month, next quarter or next year may make more sense. A good resource forecasting/planning system may be necessary – and that may be your real next project need. But look at your people landscape and make sure you can win with those available if you take on the project. If you can’t, then now is not the right time.
Will we likely win?
Finally, can you win on the proposed project? Is it likely that you will succeed? Do you have time, money and resources to pull it off? Is it the right fit for where you want your organization to be? And you have to consider the consequences if you fail. Is a fail catastrophic or a good learning experience?
Strategic planning on the projects we are faced with can be an interesting – and somewhat painstaking – process to go through. But it has to happen in order to make sure you’re working on the right projects for your organization and ones that will help you rather than hinder you on ALL of the work you’re planning to take on. Don’t just charge ahead on everything that comes your way…plan accordingly…and say “no” when you have to. Or at least “not right now.”
About the author
Brad Egeland is a Business Solution Designer and IT/PM consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Creative Design, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. Brad is married, a father of 11, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad's site at http://www.bradegeland.com.