Trying to run a project without the aid of a project management method can be compared to embarking on a journey without a map. You might have a clear idea about your chosen destination, but how are you going to get there? What should you take with you? What will happen if you encounter problems or threats along the way?
As the above analogy makes clear, it is all too easy to focus on what the project aims to produce (e.g. a new office block or a new website), without giving proper consideration to organising the work involved in reaching that goal.
Each project is a unique, temporary, unpredictable endeavour – you should never leave it to chance. All projects, large and small, need to be managed; their progress suffers without effective planning, communication strategies, risk management, progress monitoring, and so on.
Because a project is the means by which an organisation introduces change, it is by definition different to the familiar, business-as-usual activities you perform as part of your normal working day. Projects take you into unfamiliar territory, in terms of the work that needs to be completed, and often requires people who may not have worked with each other before to join together in a productive, harmonious team. What’s more, they often require considerable financial investment.
Effective planning and control
While you can never be absolutely certain that a particular project will succeed (after all, not even the best project manager can predict the future!), you can improve its chances of success by adopting a project management method. By running your project in accordance with the method’s guidelines, you should be able to address the main factors affecting project-related activities: scope, cost, time, quality, risks, and benefits.
A tried-and-tested project management method, such as the PRINCE2 framework, will help you to plan your project effectively, as well as steer the work towards the objectives, with the aim of keeping everything on track. If and when the project is put at risk (e.g. your suppliers go bust or you are in danger of overspending), the project management method should also help you to implement contingency plans.
Advantages of a structured approach
Organisations adopt project management methods like PRINCE2 because of the valuable benefits they can help deliver for your organization. Whichever project management method you choose to adopt, it should be able to provide you with the following advantages and benefits:
- Everyone involved – customer and suppliers – shares a common project management terminology, even though the suppliers may be in other countries.
- Helps you to deliver on time, within budget and to quality, whilst at the same time mitigating risks.
- Encourages cross-functional teams to work together in co-operation to deliver mutual benefits.
- Can be applied to projects both small and large.
- Can be used for any type of project in any industry and can be used alongside specialist industry approaches such as agile methods.
- Provides a community of users with already existing skills and knowledge.
- Provides a clearly defined structure of authority and responsibility so everyone knows each other's roles.
- Provides clearly defined decision points throughout the lifetime of a project.
- It focuses thoughts on what will the project deliver, why, when, by whom and for whom.
- It should encourage the project sponsors to focus on project benefits to ensure value for money for the business.
- It should not be a burden on senior managers' time.
- It should have a mechanism to aid continuous improvement in the project management method of the organization.
PRINCE2 provides all of the above advantages and benefits. PRINCE2 also benefits people who are looking to improve their project management skills and employability. For these people, having PRINCE2 certification can provide them with the knowledge to help them apply PRINCE2 more effectively, whilst also boosting their employment chances.
Of course, a project management method can only help you if you understand how best to implement it on your projects. As a result, the demand for project management training courses is high among individuals from a range of professional backgrounds. The time and effort involved in learning how to use PRINCE2 (or another method) will be rewarded when you are working on projects.
As any good project manager will tell you, the old saying that ‘fools rush in where angels fear to tread’ rings true! By adopting a project management method, you can ensure that you plan and control your projects carefully, increasing the likelihood of delivering them on time, within budget, and according to specifications. Just as you would never make an unfamiliar journey without a map, you should never manage a project without a reliable project management method.