Organizations frequently carry out projects without using any sort of formal project process. This approach may be suitable to get them through small or routine initiatives, where the task list is straightforward and time pressures are minimal. However, trying to make do with an ad hoc strategy when a project is strategically important or when fundamental business operations will be impacted—such as during the implementation of new software platforms or a transition from one type of workflow process to another—leaves too much to chance. Problems can develop without warning and the schedule may become irretrievably late soon after that.
When tasked with more complex efforts or those that carry significant risk, the lack of a formal project process for planning and control puts companies at a big disadvantage. Even when an internal PM has good experience behind them, they may not be well versed in the techniques necessary to successfully plan and execute initiatives that have more impact. A proven project management methodology includes distinct functions, such as team-based planning and vigorous risk management, which might be glossed over (or omitted entirely) unless an established and orderly process is followed. Skipping these important steps is likely to leave the organization with little ability to avoid problems or to effectively deal with them when they arise.
Consider the benefits you get with the implementation of a formal, structured project planning and control project process.
Your team is brought together under a single strategy. If factions of your project team have adopted their own approach to developing the project’s plan, monitoring its progress, or assigning and executing their activities, it’s only a matter of time before trouble appears. You want to avoid a scenario where everyone is essentially doing their own thing. By using a single strategy, you’ll have a master plan to drive activities, deadlines, and resource allocations.
You have early notification of potential problems. A formal project control process provides your team with the data necessary to spot potential problems early. This means that project challenges are no longer last-minute surprises. Instead, you’ll have time to bring the right experts together to develop and implement a solution. Learning of problems sooner in the process means fewer schedule impacts, less scrambling, and the avoidance of rush fees or off-hours labor expenses.
Everyone has ongoing visibility into the current status. The use of a proven project process to monitor progress is critical if you want to eliminate guesswork and incomplete reporting. With the right methodology in place, your team will have the tools to solicit and provide regular updates, giving you clear and accurate insight into the status of each project activity. You and your leadership team will also have constant reassurance that the project is still aligned with its target completion date.
Estimates for activity duration and completion dates are highly accurate. The implementation of a formal planning process provides a mechanism to gather information about tasks and sequencing directly from the project team members who will be responsible for doing the work. By taking this structured approach, traditional time-based formulas are replaced with real-world data. This produces a project plan that is reliable and achievable.
Your risk management efforts are consistent and effective. It’s vital that your executives are aware of any project risks that may exist. With a comprehensive process guiding the team, you’ll be able to identify risks during the planning stage and then work as a group to develop strategies to address them. This disciplined approach means the project can move forward on schedule and that you won’t need to cut corners or sacrifice quality to stay on track.