Why Accurate Project Data is Important to Project Management and Business Decisions

Accurate data is necessary for a project manager’s daily tasks and decisions. If data is inaccurate in any area of the project work flow or structure, productivity will inevitably decline. Unfortunately, most companies aren’t 100% sure of how accurate their data really is. As a result, since there is a margin of error or gray area in the data, this can present a problem. Since it is unclear from the data where the error lies, project managers are unsure of where and how to fix the problem and how to make decisions based on this.

The first thing project managers should do is to recognize that there is in fact a margin of error. For example, projects that are handed off to different functional areas or departments are areas where many errors occur. In addition, project information that is shared among coworkers, team members, and clients is another area of error. The first thing to fixing the problem is recognizing there is one.

Secondly, project managers should address the severity of an error. Then, the error can be assessed and analyzed in order to identify where it lies and how it occurred. If there is incorrect data related to a project, or project specifications for example, it can affect the codes, budgets, files, etc. that correspond to that particular project. If the product information is incorrect it can affect the sales end of the project. All in all, project managers won’t be able to make sound, accurate decisions without proper, accurate data. So how should project managers address this and resolve it?

One way is to improve systems and software so they function properly and output real, live, correct data. Installing a robust software program can help fix many inaccuracies and prevent ordinary errors from occurring. The programs will look through your current system and cross reference with other files to make sure that the information is accurate. This way project managers can run reports, monitor communication in between departments, functional areas, and to and from clients.

A final solution to the problem of inaccurate data is to put a project manager at the front end of this that will ultimately analyze and cross reference all data. This particular project manager could also sit at the back end of a project and verify that all data, numbers, files, etc. are up to date and accurate before files are delivered to a client, for example. By having a “gate keeper” so to speak at the front and back end of projects, this will help minimize the margin of error. In addition, instilling this confidence in the back of the project manager’s mind will help him or her make sound project, customer, and product-related decisions.

It goes without saying how essential it is for businesses to verify that their data is up to date and accurate at all times. If it isn’t, the costs could be great. This could mean more than a monetary cost, it could cost assets, customers, and your overall reputation. To incorporate a data management software program to maintain accuracy in addition to staff resources to update the software, disregard the old, and analyze all data will save the company a lot of time, headaches, and money in the long run.

6 Steps to Focusing on Your Constraints

Every project has at least one constraint. That is the theory of constraints. Constraints are part and parcel of every project. It is a misconception to believe that project managers are not aware of constraints. The truth is that they are so used to constraints that they take them for granted. ‘For granted’ I use here not with its general meaning. We take for granted things favorable as coming to us without our effort. Constraints too come to us without effort on our part and sometimes in spite of our hard work to avoid them. So, as project managers, our traditional and conventional thinking is that project constraints are an essential part. We must learn to live with them. The worst of this thinking leads to the idea that there is, of course nothing to do even if these constraints totally fail the project.

What ? You don’t agree. Take ten project managers of your choice to a dinner. Make them speak their mind. You will sure be patting me on my back.

The problem has more to do with our conventional thinking and our upbringing in general. We are programmed to believe that problems and hardships are part of life. They are inevitable and we need to live with them. Very few of us are brought up to deal with them. When the economies are looking down we talk about cutting costs, and creating a lean organisations. We never look for ways to increase sales because it is more comfortable to go with the trend. When it rains and our roof is leaking we are taught to move the bed elsewhere. We never want to find a way to fix the leak.

When things get delayed due to our bad ways we try to fix not the problem but the effect. Or we try to find something easy to fix. When you are late to meetings, you try to blame the timing. You never want to learn to get up early and manage time effectively. The bottom line is that conventional wisdom has not taught us to look the constraint in their face.

Even when we are truly enthusiastic about doing ‘something’ about the constraints, bottlenecks, limiting factors or whatever they are referred to as, we tend to use the same paradigms or the same thinking we are comfortable with. The greatest lesson I have learned as a project manager who is obsessed with getting projects to move without friction is that most of the problems are within us – in our attitudes, our beliefs and the frame of reference we have created. Subconsciously we resist change. We need to settle to the idea that the challenge is beyond our control.

Fortunately, there is a new way to look at the problems affecting the systems. First,the new approach requires to look at constraints in terms of systems concept. It is all about analysing issues as part of a whole. This will free you from the mentality that constraints can be bypassed or ignored. Next, the new approach necessitates a totally different attitude to constraints that goes direct on the face of conventional wisdom. We learn to think that constraints can be analysed objectively and they can be effectively dealt with. Put in another way, constraints can be acted on and changed in such a way that projects are run without friction.

Sure it is a new paradigm. New set of beliefs that need much repetition and emphasis before it makes any effective bearing in your ‘fossilized project thinking’.

First, though, what are systems amenable to this new approach?The systems are not just our projects that we are given to manage. They could be anything in which organized effort is used to produce results. Multinational organisations, governments, local authorities, functional divisions of commercial and non-commercial entities are all taken as systems. In the final analysis, a family or even an individual is a system that qualifies to benefit by this new approach.

The new approach to focus on constraints has five essential steps with an additional sixth stressing on making the domesticated monsters genies springing from Aladdin’s lamp.

STEP 1 – IDENTIFY THE CONSTRAINT

Constraint is anything that prevents the system from achieving its goals as documented. Naturally enough, according to this simple definition, constraints can be of myriad types and nature. Fortunately they all never occur in one system or at least at any one given time. Before an attempt to identify constraint, it is necessary to realize their many types. I am not going to elaborate much on the aspect of classifying constraints as we are much too familiar with it. Our conventional wisdom has given us a good tool kit to analyse the constraints to such an extent that we need no reinvention of the wheel. There is one inherent problem in this analysis, though. It is again the mindset or attitude with we do the analysis. With new approach we analyse the constraints as something that we can deal with. This new thinking will give a whole new leverage to our systems and their destiny.

Constraints are not just static, non-dynamic blocks on the road. Like anything else in life, they are what they take them to be. Even in a strictly material sense, it remains the fact. Let me make myself clear with an example. Time is a common constraint that operates on the resource side of the system equilibrium. When considered in a conventional sense, the problem of lack of time may be identified as a reason for making changes in factors totally irrelevant in identifying the real issue. You may consider revising the specifications that will not be ‘seen’ by the client as a way of dealing with this constraint. You might have the nerve to negotiate the project scope with the client or press for new budgetary allocations. All these solutions are offsprings of the traditional paradigm that time constraint can not be dealt with.

Now, let’s have a look at how the process of constraint identification take a different dimension with the new thinking. New thinking is that constraints can be acted on and changed or modified.

Faced with a time constraint, how many of you as project managers have you ever stopped to answer this question: How do we define this particular time constraint we have ? Is it a problem with time absolute in a universal sense or is it about number of useful goal units we produce? If it is about goal units, what should I look at closely ? Is it a problem about my team not working at the optimum rate? If I identify suboptimal performance of my team as the time constraint, will it help?

Yes. Answer is a big yes. When you face the problem as part of the system and as something that can be changed, the way you identify the constraint will change.

I can quote many examples to prove the point. Remember all those nagging constraints that you had to deal with in your project management life ? Could they be interpreted differently in a more actionable way? What could have been the result?

It requires team effort. First, it has to do with the share values and beliefs of your team members. When the situation is analysed as a team, more valuable insight will spring. The most e

So, the method is simple. Change your thinking and change your team’s attitude towards constraints. Find the constraint using the conventional wisdom, but interpret it in the empowered new thinking. You will find, I bet, ways to identify constraints that will facilitate adjustment in the systems that will require no sacrifice on the part of stated goals.

STEP 2 – MAKE DECISIONS

Identified constraints need decisions to act on. It is not an overstatement to say that new way of thinking must be given priority here. We need a framework to make decisions. There are seemingly two such framework working here. One dictated by the old paradigm of taking constraints as static roadblocks, which makes the whole decision making process less effective in terms potential ability to change the outcome. The new new thinking will help make decisions about steps to be taken to change based on the assumption that constraints can be changed for the better. Old thinking tries to engineer out the problem while new concept look for ways to engineer in. In other words, it is matter of deciding to remove it or work on it and work through it.

When, in one of the projects I managed, we faced a situation in which the output of an expert programmer was a stumbling block which was affecting the momentum of the entire project. Given the essential nature of the programmer’s output, we have two options in the traditional thinking. One was to hire one more programmer or to slash the project scope. Both options were to engineer out the problem.

We applied the new empowering approach. We needed to work in and engineer in. We had a few brainstorming sessions with the project team. There was only one condition: No one was allowed to find solutions which would affect the scope or budget. Surprisingly enough, we hit it on the head. The programmer analysed his workload and found some programming that other programmers can handle with little training. Two programmers agreed to undergo training and compensate for the excess. Little under two week, crippling constraint disappeared. No one thought of revising project scope or budget.

As the example pointed out clearly, it is the decision we made that matter. Every decision has a support framework of our attitudes. Our attitudes are shaped by our experience, beliefs and our values. If, as the project manager, you can influence your team to have a real shift in their attitudes, outcome will be greatly changed.

Therefore, never ask what decisions you made about the constraint. Always inquire the predominant thinking that went behind the decision, instead. Weaker foundations do not support strong structures.

STEP 03 – MAKE THE SYSTEM SERVE THE DECISION

Decisions will only be meaningful when they are backed by actions. Decisions to be effective, all members must agree to work on them. Looking back, it may not be difficult to find many decisions you never acted on. In dealing with constraints, the third step is the commitment of your team to go with the decision. Everyone needs to realize the logic behind the decision and why they should back it.

It is all about system orientation and commitment. As we discussed above, the new way of focusing on the constraint looks at constraints as manageable. Decisions made with that outlook facilitate action. Action oriented decisions will remarkably increase a team’s involvement and responsibility for what is decided to do.

This is a simple truth that has a profound effect on project success. Your members will go with you as long as your decisions can be interpreted in a tangible form while specific outcome is well defined. Another equally important factor is the team’s collective perception of the validity of this output. This perception can only be made possible by enlightening your team members to the contribution it makes to the whole system.

Our new thinking will help. Constraints, when seen as manageable entities, everyone is empowered to action. Nothing works like success. So build a successful track record and your team will coordinate and support.

STEP 04 – MAKE THE MAJOR CHANGES

The fourth step in focussing on constraints is all about making necessary systems adjustments. As we are well aware, a change in one component will unsettle the system as a whole. Be prepared to face it. In systems theory, we talk about a point of equilibrium in which the system settles to stable state when a change is made. When dealing with the constraint, we have to make changes in several major components. These changes will make the constraint disappear and host of other constraints appear. Systems anyhow will settle to a stable state.

It is not the simple commonplace actions that are necessary to deal with constraints in the new approach. We need massive actions. Major changes as never expected before. These changes need courage and determination to work on. If a decision is taken to allow some of your project members to telecommute as part of dealing with a project constraint, you will inevitably make major changes in company’s work policy. These decisions will involve tough negotiation with other departments. You, as a project manager, will have to convince your superiors about your decisions’ relevance and importance. The real test of a project manager is his level of proficiency in getting the consent of all involved in implementing major changes.

Situation is not simple. It is a new way of thinking that others are not very comfortable with. They, at least subconsciously, are trying to settle in old groves. Temporary states of instability of the system could make anyone go crazy and lose patience. Nevertheless, if you have the right vision and if you know what you are doing, you will overcome all the difficulties. You will be the winner.

STEP 05 – RECYCLE THE PROCESS

As we saw earlier, constraints are not static roadblocks that we can simply remove and contend that they will never come again. Project constraints are highly dynamic and do appear in many forms with varying level of difficulty and severity. That is the very reason for applying the fifth step of repeating the process.

The project needs a system or mechanism to constantly go through the process of identifying constraints quickly and apply the necessary thinking. With experience, your project team will become experts in applying the new thinking.

Remember you never want to be the creator of another brand new constraint: Delaying the application of the new thinking or taking proper actions.

STEP 06 – OPTIMIZING THE CONSTRAINT

The new thinking reinforced by new paradigm, no doubt, will elevate you and your project to a powerful new level. Your team will learn the value of changing their mindset. A new paradigm will take its place.

There is one more step that you can take. It will make you a ‘super power’ in dealing with constraints. If you take your thinking to the next higher level, you will find a way to make the constraint a facilitator. That is by optimizing your constraints.

Few last words.

The new focus discussed here is all about thinking in systems. It is about changing attitudes. It is about looking at problems as something that can be solved.

Where do you have to start anyway ?

Your thoughts?

Project Management in Russia

Project management, in its wider and more general meaning, is nothing new to Russia. Projects of all sizes and scopes have been managed successfully throughout history. Large scale construction works, hydro power plants, huge industrial plants, mineral and coal mining all involved mega projects. Though not sophisticated to the level today we are thinking of, about projects, they all were projects managed well.

During the Soviet times, much valuable knowledge and experience about project management was accumulated. Russian project managers developed PM methods which were comparable or even better than western ones. One good example is the patent chain models developed by G. Pospelov, V. Barishpolts, V. Rudomanov, B. Wigman, N. Komkov which were claimed to be more flexible and functionally superior to existing models. However, most of them were not widely applied in practice. It was only after the collapse of the Soviet Union that sophisticated Project Management systems were beginning to have demand in Russian economy.

Now in Russia there are two professional bodies – the Russian Project Management Association acronymed SOVNET, and American-based Project Management Institute (PMI), as well as a number of academic institutions and consulting companies that actively provide training, consulting, seminars, certification and other activities.

Thanks to the effort of these organizations, now in Russia, there are a number of professional project managers with relevant professional experience and education. These project managers help develop and maintain project management as a professional field. The situation is improving and there are signs of progress though it is not in keeping with the growing demand. But, Russian project manager hopefuls will always have a brighter future in Russia than elsewhere in the world.

Of Course, there are some challenges that need to be tackled in the Russian project management profession before it becomes a fully fledged professional system that can contribute to the productivity and growth of any industry. Some of these challenges lie outside the project management profession and others are within the system itself.

First, it is common to blame the universities and other educational institutes as providing rather less standard education and training in project management in Russia. At times, these institutions are branded as doing anything for money. But a closer analysis of the situation will reveal another aspect of the problem.

Russian top managers lack proper understanding of project management and most of them do not have any formal management education and relevant knowledge. They attempt to compensate their poor management skills by enforcing a military style command structure in their organizations. This trend coupled with poor and inadequate instruction lead project managers to frustration and poor productivity on the one hand.

On the other hand, project managers are appointed for works that they are not qualified for or trained to carry out. In Russian companies, one can still commonly find that a person’s job title does not properly reflect his actual work. It is not uncommon to find in russian companies, those holding the title as project managers having their normal duties in a completely different field and others who have nothing to do with project management appointed as project managers. The reason is top management’s heavy reliance on command type administration and management in which an employee’s talents, skills, education and training are not so relevant.

As a result, only a small fraction of projects are managed in a classical western style while a majority of them suffer poor management. Furthermore, projects, especially IT projects, are often considered as ‘technical’ work that does not require management input in a scientific way.
It is very rare to see good budgeting, scheduling or setting up of milestones in practice. Finally, a lot of projects are not finished on time and they become mere processes.

Fortunately, the situation is changing or at least shows signs of change for the better. More companies than ever before are realizing the importance of scientific project management and ever increasing number of them are applying the principles of scientific PM in their projects on regular basis.

Typical project manager in a Russian context can be described as a male of 30 – 45 with education in the field in which the project is concerned – if it is IT, an IT specialist – and some management education with knowledge of all processes and technical issues of the project.

In the hiring process, employers show clear preference for male candidates but in certain spheres, women are also considered suitable as project managers. Increasing number of women are starting as project managers in the commercial sector. Female project managers in Russia have shown to be equally capable as project managers as their male counterparts.

Russian business environment with its less well developed scientific management approach and its reliance on traditional type of management style makes a project manager’s job more challenging and demanding than in a western economy.

Unstable economy accompanied by frequent crisis, currency instability, unreliable forecasting of inflation all adversely affect the professional project manager’s role. Project managers in Russia must know the market very well. He must know if the supplier or partner is reliable enough. Common situation for many russian companies is the delay in performing obligations. It is absolutely true that there are many occasions where business without bribe is simply impossible. If project requires to obtain numerous licenses and certificates, communication with government officials often is included as major part of the project manager’s duty in Russia.

Nevertheless, Russian scene of project management shows a lot of promise and potential. With continuing developments in the economy, business and management practices in particular, it is not being overly optimistic to say that project management will have a brighter prospect in modern Russia.

Why Are Project Management Trends Important For Businesses?

Project management is a constantly changing role. This role is dependent on society and organizational changes. It depends on technology, societal and organizational trends, and even industry trends. Project managers need to be knowledgeable of these changes and trends in order to meet team goals and to properly deliver products and services to customers.

So what are some of the latest project management trends?

  • Maximize efficiency. What ways can project managers, teams, and processes work more efficiently? What processes can be introduced into current work flows and work breakdown structures to help save time and money? What are some ways to open up and efficiently enhance communication? Today it’s all about maximizing efficiency. Finding and incorporating the most efficient processes and work flows will certainly help streamline projects and communication among teams, departments, and even customers.
  • Customer Oriented. Speaking of customers, it’s all about them, isn’t it? Customer requirements is a huge portion of project management and is directly related to project success and even the success of a project manager. Project managers spend a great deal of time at the beginning of projects analyzing and researching customer requirements. This could involve documenting project or account specifications and communicating them among team members, identifying and responding to potential risks, or even drafting a prototype for those customers who are unsure of what they are looking for in a project outcome.
  • Productivity. Productivity is another key project management trend today. In addition to maximizing efficiency, project managers have also found themselves in the unique position of discovering ways to increase productivity, while saving time and money on other areas of the job. One common way to increase productivity, as well as efficiency at the same time, is by incorporating robust project management software, which we will talk about more in the next point. Project management software improves work flows and efficiency by bringing remote or off site teams together for projects.
  • Project Management Software. Most, if not all project management roles today rely on some type of project management software for the daily management of tasks, projects, deadlines, and budgets. Project management software has greatly increased in popularity and use, particularly in today’s technologically savvy business world and society when teams and organizations work remotely and off site. Some teams are even located in entirely different states or countries and in different time zones. This is why robust and reliable project management software is crucial to promoting efficiency and ensuring project success.

Finally, it’s important for organizations and project managers to pay attention to project management trends. Not only will this maximize efficiency and productivity and help lead projects to success and even meet or exceed customer expectations, but it will also make organizations look efficient and professional as well. Customers like to know they can count on and work with professional, efficient, and reliable organizations that will help them develop and design great products.

Decision Making… What’s The Big Deal?

One of the most important tasks a project manager faces on a daily basis is decision making. Project managers are to make all kinds of decisions ranging in importance and priority levels. So as an efficient and professional project manager, how are you supposed to make the best decision that could ultimately impact a coworker, a customer, or a product? Here are some ways that project managers can make the best decisions by using accurate data.

As a project manager you probably already use tools such as spreadsheets, project programs, or even online web based tools to keep track of projects currently in the pipeline, budgets, tasks, etc. It is also most likely that on a weekly or maybe even daily basis, you run reports, check figures, and follow up on tasks and assignments as necessary. This is a great way to keep tabs on projects at their various stages and to see the overall project process moving.

By keeping records and notes, whether manually or digitally, it is safe to analyze this data and make informed decisions based on this. For example, speaking from a product development perspective, if a team member phones or emails you and expresses concern for a particular customer who may want to change the specifications of his or her product halfway through the project cycle, what are some of the implications that go along with this? How will this impact the schedule? How will this impact the budget? These are things that need to be addressed before getting back to the customer with a firm proposal.

This is your chance to sit down, maybe even discuss the details with the particular team member, and analyze where the project currently is in the life cycle, how much room in the schedule is needed to make the changes, if it will impact delivery and manufacturing time, and how much extra costs will need to be configured into the big picture. By analyzing these reports you are able to make a good decision based on the data provided.

Another way to use accurate data in making decisions is on the front end of the projects. How many projects are in the pipeline? When are they expected to come in? When are they expected to turnover? Are there enough resources to accommodate this? By running reports and keeping records of phone calls or emails from sales representatives or direct customers establishing leads, it is easy to recognize how many projects are expected to hit the office at a certain time. By analyzing this, you can see if you have enough resources to manage the work load. If you’ve established that the amount of resources is going to be an issue, then by analyzing reports and data, you’ve just made the decision that you may need to hire resources or initiate schedule changes among staff and team members in order to accommodate larger work loads.

These are just a few examples of what a project manager faces on a daily basis. Again, decisions can range from different priority and importance levels depending on the project or maybe even the customer. All in all, making decisions is always crucial. One particular decision, which may seem unimportant, could very well endanger the quality of a customer’s product, which could jeopardize your relationship with that customer. However, by using and practicing an organized and effective track system, it is easier to analyze project data and make effective decisions based upon this data.

Leadership in Project Management – 14 Key Principles

William Deming first introduced the fourteen key principles in his book Out of the Crisis which was published in 1986. These principles still apply to business and project management today. From long standing companies to small businesses just starting out, these principles are key components in successful business and project management objectives and endeavors.

  1. The focus is to remain constant with the purpose or goal of your business. Project managers as well as business managers should continuously seek methods to improve your product and your overall service. This is absolutely important for project managers to consider. By continuously striving to improve your product and customer service, you will stay one step ahead of your competition. As it should go without saying staying in business is very important particularly in today’s economy. Staying in business will provide jobs for others.
  2. Life is always changing. Things grow, develop, and die to make way for new methods and new life. The same goes for business. Project managers should stay abreast of the new challenges and changes in the business environment. Some new challenges that business face every day is technology. It is difficult to stay on top of the new systems, technological gadgets, and updates that are constantly at our disposal. The challenge of staying current must be accepted. As a project manager you must be flexible and open to new challenges and changes and must act as leaders.
  3. Business is constantly susceptible to inspection. This ensures your business is up to code and compliant with local, state, and federal laws and regulations. However, you shouldn’t rely on these inspections to improve your business. You need to study and be aware of the new or changing trends and practices. Do not wait for an inspection, or until it’s “too late”, to implement a new change or make improvements.
  4. While cost is important for businesses, and is even more of a key component in today’s economy, the bottom line can’t always be the price tag. A key to business is not the higher price. Instead it is to minimize total cost in order to stay in competition with other businesses. One supplier for any one item can build a long lasting business relationship of trust and loyalty.
  5. Project managers and business managers should always have costs and budgets in the back of their minds. While it seems as if this point may conflict with the previous principle, it is important to remember to constantly attempt to improve production and service. However, it is also important to decrease overall costs. Remember the better the production and service the less you will pay in total cost.
  6. To make productive and informed workers it is necessary to have on the job training for your employees. Training should be held regularly as business grows and as practices change. This will definitely help employees stay well informed and be successful in their roles. As a project manager or business manager you should stay on top of your employees’ overall performances and address training in areas where needed. Not only will this show your employees that you care about their future at the company but that you are a leader they can count on.
  7. Leadership is probably one of the most important areas of project management and business management. A project manager must possess outstanding leadership skills. A good leader should be there to supervise the employees and oversee operations in order to maintain productivity. Today leadership doesn’t stop at just employees but rather it extends to technology as well. Project managers should help improve users’ knowledge and skills as well as oversee the functionality of technology as a whole.
  8. Recognize that fear is not an option. Effective leaders should work with employees and team members to remove the fear of failure and the inability or fear of completing tasks or taking on new challenges. If team members feel confident and encouraged they will ultimately be more effective and productive as well as successful in their roles.
  9. Tear down walls, figuratively and literally. There should be no barriers between departments. All areas of the business to need to be able to work and communicate with one another effectively to reach one goal: get the job done. As a project manager or business manager, it is an essential part of your job to make sure tasks and assignments get done. Teamwork is the most effective tool in a business setting. In addition, you can also tear down the walls in a literal sense. More and more companies are even instituting an open floor plan which reduces segregation among supervisors, coworkers, and teams. Not only does this open up the doors of communication studies have also shown that employees feel more comfortable in an open floor plan.
  10. Teamwork cannot be competitive. Do away with targets and inter-business competitions. This only drives team members and coworkers away from one another and ultimately decreases morale. Reward equally and allow praise among all employees.
  11. Leadership is the ultimate key to production. The old fashioned system of setting up goals and standards is obsolete and outdated. Quotas have statistically failed in business in the past. Successful project managers can institute measures and practices of leadership and display those skills to ensure productivity rather than succumbing to quotas and standards.
  12. Another crucial component that a project manager must focus on is quality. There are many different ways you can go about establishing quality in the work place. Remember that a team member will always take pride in his or her accomplishments. Do not hinder these feelings among your team members. Quality is absolutely the key to business, but creativity and craftsmanship in your team members will ensure more productivity and a happier work place.
  13. Human beings by biological nature have the desire to learn. As people we want to learn, grow, and develop. This goes for our careers as well. Education and self improvement should be constantly emphasized in the work place. Project managers should show team members how they can grow personally as well as professionally. By investing and encouraging team members to learn and grow, the company ultimately grows as a business.
  14. All effective members of a business are responsible for the transformation and growth of the business. The company is only as strong as its weakest link. By instituting attitudes of leadership, encouragement, and new philosophies, each team member will do his or her own share of work to help transform the company.

William Deming’s fourteen principles of business management are still very effective in the business world today. So what do most of these principles have in common? Leadership. By extending leadership qualities to team members and by applying these principles to all areas of the business, reaching company goals and objectives, regardless of how large or small, will become more visible. These principles begin at the management level and will trickle down.

“The Critical Path is Not Critical”

The critical path is not critical.

The complexity of today’s projects often requires robust project management software and technology in order to effectively track all the moving parts of your business. With so many differing stakeholders there is often a disconnect between who is beholden to the critical path and how it works.

The shortest description is that the critical path is all about timing, it’s about finding the most bottle-necked areas of your project and exploiting them for the most efficient project completion. It’s almost always about the timing of your project.

There will be detractors who, without understanding this principle, may well attempt to derail a project, many times unknowingly. They may feel the critical path is not the “technical” path, the most difficult path or the path that is critical to their particular function as a stakeholder in the project. While each of these could be an individual’s concern going into the project, there must be wholehearted understanding that the critical path is all about the timing. Ignoring it is simply another way of expanding your expenses via costly time-consuming projects where project managers go rouge at the expense of the organization. Believe me, this is not a good place to be.

Project Equals Strategy

Many organizations forget that projects are all about implementation of an idea. Ideas are a dime a dozen, but it’s the execution of the strategy and the ideas which separate the dreamers from all else. Too often corporations, whether they are implementing an IT project or not, completely ignore the need for proper project planning prior to implementation of their idea.

For many projects, successful strategy is measured by timing and timing is never executed without a proper project plan. Unfortunately, many organizations fail to meet project deadlines regularly, doing so outside the realm of today’s project software opportunities. For those who understand the overall corporate strategy, and whose projects are necessarily aligned, missing deadlines should be treated as a disastrous failure. In some cases, project managers are too focused on minimizing the negative, instead of looking to maximize the strategy and plan for the positive. It some ways, it’s a bit like the glass is half empty/half full scenario.

Here are some key reasons why proper project timing is essential for executing on strategy:

  • Competition kills. If your competitors are faster than you and on par, then you are toast. If they are faster and better, it’s project suicide.
  • First-mover advantage. While many strategists argue there is often little value in being the first mover (in some cases it can work to your detriment), it is still helpful to execute quickly and then shift strategy, then to fail to execute over and over again. Think of what a difference a year could make on a patent being released. It could mean the difference in huge coin.
  • Shorter schedules reduce cost and increase turnover. Why do players like Wal-Mart and Amazon win? They focus on providing low costs to the customer with rapid inventory turnover. The longer you wait to turnover your project, regardless of the project’s type, you are wasting time. Time is money.

So the next time you look at the “critical path” on some Gantt chart within your organization, remember that timing is just about everything when it comes to project planning and implementation. And timing is almost always about strategy and execution.