I’m Suzanne S. Davenport, founder of Smart Projex, a project management methodology for teams working on complex and critical projects, and needing agility and control.

Years ago, I spent countless hours in fluorescent lit classrooms trying desperately to understand tedious project concepts, such as earned value management, critical path management, crashing, and fast-tracking, to name just a few.

I’m not dumb. I was a Vice President of a major bank. I was an executive in a healthcare start-up. I graduated with honors from an MBA program at Virginia Commonwealth University. I’ve gotten multiple project certifications, and yet, I will admit that there are still times when all of this gives me a raging headache. Sometimes these skills are needed, but more often, I question their value. Here’s why, in very simple terms.

“Project teams are flying by the seat of their pants and at the end of the month, they look back on what they have accomplished and wonder whether they have made any real progress or not.”

Most of the projects done in the business world are not construction projects. They are complex projects, sometimes called product development projects, change management projects, or strategic initiatives. They are not nearly as linear and predictable as construction projects.

Project teams are flying by the seat of their pants and at the end of the month, they look back on what they have accomplished and wonder whether they have made any real progress or not. And all of this was true long before COVID-19 took the world by storm.

To understand this, consider what it takes to build a house. You have to dig a hole before you can pour the foundation. You have to put in the studs before you can staple in the wiring. And you have to put up the sheetrock before you can paint.

And at the end of each month, you can walk around the site, observe the progress, and estimate how much has been finished. In a business project, the process is not nearly so straightforward.

Suppose, for example, you are writing the user manual for a new piece of scientific equipment that your company is developing. You write draft after draft until you think you are finished. And then, you pass it along, and the edits start coming.

When a team of smart people must approve any major deliverable, it is not unusual for smart minds to delay completion, because new and improved information is always appearing. And so, if you try to estimate how much work you have really finished, you just won’t know.

And there is another factor. We work in a rapidly changing knowledge economy. We have smart people working on several complex projects at a time, with multiple bosses, as well as families and other personal commitments. They can’t tell you exactly when they will be available to work on your project, because they don’t know.

And yet, managing people with the traditional Gantt chart requires that team members commit to a schedule of their availability.

After years of thinking and questioning everything I knew about project management, I began dreaming about what project management, if it were done really well, might look like. I went back to first principles. Ultimately, I created and tested working software that met many of my goals.

The result of those efforts is a new project methodology that offers you and your teams the agility that is needed in a world of rapid change. It offers the project controls that keep change from turning into chaos.

And that is how my Smart Projex story begins.

I work with executives, project leaders, and teams needing to move key projects from start to finish. Make no mistake about it. The work that I do with these groups is challenging. I will ask you tough questions that you might not have thought about before. I can help you, but you will have to do the hard work!

Smart Projex was designed for business projects, where money, quality, people, and deadlines matter – though little is predictable – except change.