New projects share something in common with new business startups: the majority do not succeed. Projects either do not get completed and fall by the wayside resulting in wasted funds and lost time or fail to meet stakeholder expectations. There are many reasons why projects can fail, but more often than not, the reason is that one of the following 3 laws of project management was not observed…
First Law of Project Management – Don’t Ignore Detail
Yes it is important to know the big picture but if the project team focuses on the big picture and does not get into detail, this is a sure-shot route to failure. Any project plan that is not based on detail – for example detailed man-days, detailed specifications, detailed list of deliverables, detailed project plan with dependencies and contingencies etc. then say goodbye to success. A project manager that says “I am not good at detail” is a red flag for any project.
It is the level of detail that actually reveals what a project actually implies in terms of work to be done. Most projects are under-planned and end up fighting fires and working extra man-weeks or man-months simply because not enough attention was given to detail.
The professional project manager will look at any high-level task and break it down into smaller units to calculate what this means in terms of time and effort.
Second Law of Project Management – Work with Clarity
Clarity is enhanced with detail but clarity requires more than detail. Clarity is a function of communication – methodical communication that eradicates confusion on goals, timescales, project scope, team responsibilities, quality expectations etc.
A good place to start is project scope. This needs to be absolutely crystal clear and documented, not based on opinion and verbal discussion. Ask project team members if they have any lack of clarity and if they do, address it immediately.
Third Law of Project Management – Plan for the Unexpected
Every plan is at best a fallible projection of the future. Most project managers have read about risk in their PMP course or somewhere else but still choose to ignore these. Plan for contingency. Anticipate what sort of risks the project may have to face. This may not be enough cushion when the shock comes but it will be better than no planning at all.
There are no guarantees of course but observing these 3 laws will significantly increase the odds of project success.