Project Management: On Time, below Budget

By Zink, Dennis | Sarasota Herald Tribune, July 13, 2015 | Go to article overview

Project Management: On Time, below Budget


Zink, Dennis, Sarasota Herald Tribune


SCORE CARD

At breakfast with my good friend and fellow SCORE mentor Richard Randolph, we discussed a new course he is preparing to teach at USF- Sarasota/Manatee in the fall. USF will offer an introductory course in project management.

PM is used by businesses of all sizes. Research shows that using PM methods reduces risk, cuts costs, and improves success rates. Good PM can:

- Reduce the chance of a project failing

- Ensure a minimum level of quality

- Free up other staff members

- Provide a single point of contact to run the project

- Encourage consistent communications (among staff and vendors)

- Keep costs, timeframes and resources under control

The Project Management Institute reports that effective project management decreased failed projects by 31 percent, delivered 30 percent of projects under budget, and delivered 19 percent of projects ahead of schedule.

What is a project?

A project is a temporary endeavor to create a unique product, service or result. Defined by three constraints: time, budget and deliverables (the output/results of the project). Work that is ongoing (preparing invoices, production) is not a project.

Time - Every project has a specific due date or end point. This is when all the required deliverables are fulfilled or when the project owner terminates the project.

Budget - The initial budget is determined by evaluating the expected cost to fulfill the deliverables by the specified time. Costs include materials and supplies, subcontracted work, overhead expenses (permits, legal and government fees), people (skills, talent, labor) and communication/reporting to achieve the deliverables on time.

Deliverables - The final output/outcome of the project work. Project deliverables include a measure of quality - how good the work is.

Project scope

The complete list of outcomes and deliverables at the beginning of the project is known as the scope - what's included and what's not. Problems arise when, along the way, someone thinks of something to add or change: "While we're doing this, could you just go ahead and add this to it?" This is called "scope creep" - the bane of project management.

Change of any kind always affects at least one of the key constraints - adds to cost, takes more time, or modifies the deliverables' specifications. All changes to the project specifications must be agreed to in writing! Skipping this requirement invites anarchy into your project.

What is a project manager?

Someone has to be in charge and be the final decider of who does what, when and at what expense. That person is your project manager. According to the Project Management Institute, project managers are responsible for delivering solutions, assigning resources, managing budgets and satisfying stakeholders.

What can go wrong?

Projects don't always work out as expected. Over half of all projects fail to meet at least one of the constraints. …

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