One common problem organizations encounter is the existence of multiple concurrent plans for a single project. Between the various cross-functional groups, from accounting to engineering to HR, you may discover there are too many schedules in use. With all these timetables floating around, how can you trust any of the resulting progress estimates? The true status of each activity soon becomes a big question mark. Sound familiar? It’s the “many truths” problem and it could doom your project to failure.
With numerous stakeholders to support and ambitious corporate goals to achieve, project teams sometimes fall into the trap of over-committing themselves as they try to make everyone happy. Some agree to aggressive schedules in hopes they can shave time off along the way. Others begin projects with a too-lean budget expecting they will somehow keep expenditures below normal levels. In each case, the team usually ends up looking bad in the end, as the project’s target completion date encounters delays and requests for additional funds pile up.
Every project is comprised of a number of individual tasks. Some tasks can and should be executed simultaneously, and at other times one task must be completed before the next activity can begin. Unfortunately, there’s a lot that can go wrong with these task chains, and the potential for problems grows along with the scope and complexity of the project. For example, the Project Team might not realize that one delayed task doesn’t just impact one other activity, it actually affects the execution plan for many other tasks that are scheduled to happen later in the project.
Several factors can create challenges for manufacturing project teams. For example, among the many concerns for PMs today are unexpected supply chain issues related to ramping up after a prolonged downturn. It can be tremendously difficult to juggle increased manufacturing needs—often with time pressures as primary drivers—against potentially decreased bandwidth across suppliers and producers.
Gaining cooperation across disparate sub-groups is sometimes a difficult task for project managers. Even when everyone agrees they’re on the same page and working toward the same goals, it’s not uncommon to discover that communication channels between the groups are weak and collaboration is lacking. Some departments may have a tough time fully engaging with the effort. Others might try to push their opinions and preferences to the forefront. Participation in meetings and brainstorming sessions is often hit or miss.
Ongoing education is a critical part of maintaining a Project Team’s base of skills and expertise. Using internal team members to train others in the group is often an attractive option—it doesn’t entail the typical hard costs associated with outside training and classes can be conducted with little advance planning. This takes good advantage of downtime while keeping everyone up to date on best practices. However, though the cost savings and flexibility may be tempting, there are some challenges that teams need to be mindful of if they want to get the most benefit out of their internal training opportunities.
In addition to the challenges project managers commonly face, initiatives that revolve around technology—upgrades, expansions, system replacements, etc.—bring their own unique obstacles. These can be especially difficult to navigate when you’re trying to execute a technology-related project in a non-technology organization. If a project that’s heavy on technology is on the horizon for your team, consider where roadblocks are likely to exist and the strategies that can help you overcome them.
The ongoing uncertainty about Brexit—what its impacts will be in the marketplace and when those effects will be felt—has many companies considering where they may need to cut costs or reallocate their resources. As organizations try to navigate this changing landscape, solid project management expertise will continue to be a vital asset.
Project teams are increasingly aware of the value of using a dynamic schedule to sequence and oversee activities. With the ability to effectively address any schedule impacts by reflowing or compressing tasks to maintain alignment with the target completion date, the center of excellence gains tangible benefits that can help keep difficult or complex projects on track.