Managing projects is like having a baby…

Many project managers have doubtless exclaimed “giving birth would be simpler than managing this project”!  This may be truer than they ever imagined…

Initiation can provide the same euphoria as finding out you are going to be a new parent – getting assigned to a new project is an exciting but also unnerving time.  There are hundreds of questions, but also plenty of stakeholder input!  There are myriads of sources of information, but it can be challenging to separate the useful lessons learned from “old wives tales”!

Planning can prove to be as unpleasant as the first trimester – with frustrating stakeholders, challenging constraints, uncertain scope and storming teams,  project managers might be excused for acting as though they suffer from prolonged morning sickness!  With appropriate attention & resourcing combined with a healthy dose of risk management, the project manager should strive to lay a solid foundation for the rest of their project/pregnancy.

Project execution can feel a lot like the second and most of the third trimesters.  This is where the (literally) heavy lifting takes place, the peak resourcing/food intake, and careful monitoring & tracking of vitals, but if planning was done well, it should be a fairly smooth ride.  Resource shortfalls need to be addressed in a timely fashion to avoid impacting the project’s outcomes and cutting corners on quality will come back to haunt you long after the project/baby has been delivered!  While change is to be expected, it should not be rushed into without  appropriate governance.  The need to prepare the environment for the impending arrival is also crucial.  Procrastination on implementing effective organization change management will be extremely costly as anyone that has had to decorate a baby nursery at the last minute will attest!

Finally, project closeout can range from the very smooth to the highly painful.  Challenging project “deliveries” can be the result of poor planning and execution, but they might also be through no fault of the project team’s, but rather a result of external or environmental factors.  Closeout can also be a time of intense conflict between the project team and key stakeholders (e.g. mother-in-laws, new fathers)!

Throughout the project/pregnancy, the need for effective, timely communication is critical.

Having a baby is the first step in a long rewarding journey for new parents just as successfully managing a project should be the start of achieving expected business outcomes.

Happy Labor Day!


Categories: Facilitating Organization Change, Project Management | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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