The one thing supply management has in common with IT is this: projects are never easy, and project management skills are becoming increasingly important if you want your project to be successful. To this end, a recent article in SupplyManagement.com, that claims you should rule with an iron triangle (referring to the parameters of time, cost, and quality that must be maintained in a constant balance), attempted to outline the key issues at each stage of a project that must be managed for project success. And while it’s impossible to sum up all the intricacies of project management in a single article, a few good tips never hurt — especially if you want to avoid the “seven stage syndrome” that is all too common in mismanaged and unmanaged projects (wild enthusiasm –> disillusionment –> confusion –> panic –> search for the guilty –> punish the innocent –> glory for the non-participants).
The following are some key issues, and tips, for each of the five main stages of a basic project life-cycle:
The project needs to be appropriately defined. Create a “project initiation document” that captures and documents key issues, key risks, project structure, and authority levels.
If not controlled, “padding” can escalate out of control. It’s important to collectively break down the project into a set of manageable tasks that can be reasonably estimated without the need for excess “padding” by an individual outside of their comfort zone.
- Resourcing & Cost-Estimation
Costs can spiral out of control without a plan, and they will spiral out of control without a good plan backed by diligent homework that assigns (reasonably) accurate costs to each component.
If not closely monitored, you’re likely to find out at 500 feet that your parachute lines are tangled … leaving you essentially no time to untangle them. But if you monitor closely, you can find out that they’re snagged at 5,000 feet, when you still have time to untangle them.
This only happens if your project is well planned, well executed, and monitored closely. Otherwise, while you will end up somewhere, it won’t be where you want to be.