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.

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

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