Project Management Lite

Let me preface this post by saying that if your daughter's soccer and hockey schedules are in Primavera and you have a Gantt chart of tonight's dinner this will be preaching to the choir. To further clarify, what I want to talk about is how substantial returns can be gained by economically applying project management principles to small construction, maintenance, and fabrication projects. To determine how far to go down the PMBOK rabbit hole on smaller projects, I look at the level of risk, the project's value, and overall level of complexity. While all projects benefit from a total project management approach those with limited resources need to direct their energy on getting the best ROI.

Projects with High Risk benefit greatly from a focus on communication and engagement with stake holders. Use collaborative tools like Slack, Smartsheet and Freedcamp to make the exchange of information efficient and real-time. This will allow all stake holders to participate without spending too much energy on getting everyone together for physical meetings. Relying on email or conference calls as communication tools results in information overload, wasted time and the potential for key information to be overlooked or worse misunderstood.

Complex projects and those with severe time based Risk require a greater investment in scheduling and up front planning. Use Google Docs or Office 365 to create collaborative schedules and project documents. This does not need to be a time consuming exercise. Simple schedules with tasks and durations offer a common framework to discuss scope, timelines and sequencing. Regular schedule updates to the team will prevent surprises and avoid costly delays.

High value projects have the greatest resources available to dedicate to project management. The costs of resources dedicated to project management as a percentage of scope is small. This means that even with diminishing returns, even small incremental improvements result in rapid ROI and significant absolute cost savings over the term of the project.

A lean and nimble project management process can be implemented in small steps. Start creating a culture of planning and process. Focus on low hanging fruit, small incremental improvements in project processes where the effect can be evaluated in monetary or labour units. Implementing project management standards is a project. Get feedback and revise as needed. Conduct Lessons Learned meetings throughout each phase to share knowledge gained and document improvements as they happen.

The most important element in any project are the people. Without buy in and support from the project team the success of a project is jeopardized. Demonstrating the effectiveness of project management techniques can help build engagement and encourage continued investment in project management. Scale the level of detail and formality to suit the project and the team. What's important is the process and the plan.

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