In my blog post on Scrum and Agile, I talked about the need for flexibility on business projects and the difficulty it presents for managing cash flow. To achieve flexibility and a reliable budget, the project team needs to better define the what, where, why, when and how – or in project management terms – the vision, project scope, key activities, risks, quality objectives, communication needs, resource requirements, schedule, and budget.
The results may not be perfect, but the effort is worthwhile. Executives cannot expect to successfully manage cash flows without reliable project budgets and effective ways to manage change. In this quick blog, I review a few examples of situations where failure to understand specifics resulted in an unnecessary waste of money or disappointment in the results.
Connect your project with your strategy. Clarify your vision. Develop a compelling why to keep teams from spinning mindlessly.
One startup that I worked for was struggling to find its way. It wasn’t attracting customers and while it thought it understood its target market, that market didn’t seem interested. Was the problem in our marketing, our practices, or our people? Was our market simply not ready for this space age technology? Lack of funding didn’t provide the option of waiting it out while we continued to educate the market. We had to pivot, fast.
A meeting was held to brainstorm ideas, where suggestions emerged. People were quickly sent off to execute these ideas and before we knew it, we were back in the conference room, brainstorming more ideas. Each week, we went off to try something new, never understanding what we were doing or why. Nothing worked. Our business strategy was too vague, and we had no clarity on what we were doing, or why.
Understand your project requirements. What? Where? Who? How? Be specific.
In the technology world, folks use the term project requirements, and it is a clearly understood term. In other organizations, that term may not be understood. The success of any project depends on clearly understanding the project.
A simple illustration that everyone will understand: I wanted to have leftover spaghetti for dinner. We were short on meatballs and my husband agreed to stop by the market and pick up a package. He came home with Cajun sausages and pineapple teriyaki chicken meatballs. Have you ever tasted pineapple teriyaki chicken meatballs in Italian spaghetti sauce? Not exactly what I was hoping for….
It’s cheaper to understand your quality needs at the beginning than to fix it at the end.
I once worked on a project for a non-profit that spent a large sum of money (and time) on professionally created invitations and after hand addressing several thousand, learned that the executive director had decided to electronically invite guests this year. This wasn’t a bad idea for this event, but no one asked the question early in the process. Defining quality would have saved this group some cash, but it was much easier to follow a template from previous years.
Fully defining the project scope, activities and key attributes of the project means asking the hard questions: the what, where, why, when and how. While no project tool substitutes for the human interaction that goes into properly planning, executing and managing a project, having a tool that manages the data that are uncovered in the process certainly helps.
Share your stories below.
Photo Credit: Startup Stock Photos from Pixabay; CC0 Public Domain License; https://ow.ly/MUEPu