Today’s article is the second article of the series. This Management Expert series presents the subject of the five mistakes which we have to make in order to become a project management guru, and this article presents the last three of them.
3 The planning of the project becomes formalistic
In real project management, project planning is one of the works which are most easily turned into a mere formalistic. For instances:
1. Make decisions subjectively when planning the scope of the project. Include whatever the customer/sponsor required into the project scope. It is easy to come up with a project management plan with no feasibility or without considering other factors of domains of project management, but it would create many underlying problems for the execution of the project.
2. Haven’t done the works which are required to be done due to the loose external environment, which leads to casual planning of the project. For example, the schedule plan was casually planned, which leads to a lack of driving force for the execution. The team members lack a sense of urgency and do not feel like executing the project efficiently. This would soon become a waste of project human resources for the organization.
For project planning issues, the first thing we need to know is that the process of project planning is more important than the outputs of the planning. The outputs of the planning can be simplified based on physical reality. But the processes of research, analysis, and deduction can not be tailored. The second thing is that the internal and external conditions of project management must be overall considered during the planning processes, in order to achieve the optimized balance of many factors such as time, scope, quality, cost, etc. In the meantime, the project manager should make use of the intelligence of the project team actively, such as inviting the project team members and some experts into the process of the project planning or into the review meeting of the project management plan. In this way, the project management plan will be feasible and reasonable.
4. Did not gain continuous attention from management
The support from high-level management of the organization is a key factor for the success of the project. This conclusion is a common sense of project management. But many project managers gradually discovered that many high-level leaders would little by little lose their interest in the project as the project proceeds. The specific scenarios would be the leaders did not ask about the project as they used to be, or the resource and technical support from the corresponding functional departments became weaker and weaker. In this way, the probability of project failure would grow higher and higher and the achievement of the project objectives would be affected.
The loss of attention to high-level management is usually caused by the following reasons:
1. The project manager and project team only focus on the execution of the project every day, without any periodic communications with the management. Meanwhile, the high-level management is busy in other management business and gradually forget about the project.
2. When reporting to the high-level management, the project manager or the project team did not focus on the business benefit of the project. Instead, they used many technical terms to describe the status of the project. As a result, the high-level management would lose their interest in the project due to the unawareness of the business information which they wanted to gain.
In order to solve this problem, the first thing the project manager should do is to invite high-level management to participate in the planning of the project. In this phase, many high-level leaders would be happy to take part in co-planning important projects. The second thing the project manager should do is to keep communicating with high-level management as the project proceeds. In this phase, what the project manager should do is to consider the focus points which the high-level leaders had expressed during the planning phase, periodically send updated information to the high-level leaders, information like the performance report, existed issues, communication records of important decisions and so forth. Meanwhile, project managers should choose words and terminologies carefully when communicating with high-level leaders. Most of the high-level management care more about the business benefits of the project, rather than detailed technical project terminologies.
5 Take care of every single thing personally
The project manager should be a servant leader for the project team. But many project managers discovered that even though they had served the team as a servant leader, but the number of problems was still growing every day. The cellphones of the project managers were ringing all the time, and they had no other time or energy for dealing with other businesses.
The reasons for the upper situation are usually two:
1. Whether the problem is big or small, the project manager takes care of the problem all by himself, in this way, the project team members would gradually grow a sense of psychological dependence whenever there is a problem occur. As a result, the team members would become lazy and treat the servant leader as a total babysitter instead of a real leader.
2. In some small projects, the organizational structure of the project is simple, it only has a few communication channels. In this way, the project manager would have the time to help the team members solving project problems. But as the project becomes more complicated, the project team grows bigger, the number of communication channels would grow exponentially. If the project manager still manages the project in the same way, he would certainly become more and more exhausted.
In terms of this issue, the project manager should firstly consider himself a “manager”, then a “servant”. The project manager should the team members clarifying the project objectives, defining clear duties and responsibilities. Also eliminating barriers, and creating fine working environments for the team members to work intently. For the detailed project problems and specific technical problems, it should be the team members’ duty to resolve them. If some team members consider that the project manager should solve the specific problems with them due to their lack of project management knowledge then the project manager should at least educate them with some explicit project management strategies, and gain all team members’ approval and reach a consensus.
In summary, this article is the second article of a series. The series has presented five mistakes that most project managers would possibly make and by making these mistakes the project manager would grow into a guru of project management.