zenrunner

The paradox of small projects

In Project management on October 30, 2008 at 9:29 pm

Late last year I was asked to help deliver a ‘small’ project. My workload was fairly loaded so before I agreed, I checked the scope had a quick discussion with the selected implementation partner to assess what was required. It seemed like a quick and easy project, so I agreed to be the project manager. 12 months later, is this really a small project?

On reflection, here is what went wrong.

  • I perceived the project to be small based on limited information / analysis
  • With the project only expected to last three to four months, I trimmed down my project management activities like abbreviating the stakeholder analysis process, gaining organisational change management input, and benefits management process
  • I viewed my involvement as part-time
  • Last and potentially the worst, I assumed that the organisation understood and wanted the project (I based this assumption on the fact that a team of people across each department had come up with the project concept, a team member had prepared a business case, and the Senior Management Team had approved the business case).

How did these ‘wrongs’ manifest themselves during the project:

  • While we defined the potential business value, we did not have a clear or detailed plan of how we would realise this benefit.
  • The project team showed signs of stress as project work chewed up operational time, and additional but necessary tasks were treated with dread.
  • The team that would own the project deliverables at project completion continually challenged the value of the project.

What would I do next time?

  • Spend more time on understanding, documenting, and agreeing benefits and the process for their realisation.
  • Complete a full stakeholder analysis supported but a full communications plan and change management plan.
  • Plan with the end in mind; for example, define and agree who will be the operational owners of the project deliverables and ensure that they understand the value for the organisation and to them personally.

I am interested in your thoughts on managing small projects particularly when you have other larger project on the go at the same time.

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  1. Well said… Great information, keep up the great work!

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