What if there was no Project Management? Ok, there are lot of worse things to be without…food, clothing, shelter, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. But think about this question from the IT world frame of mind. What if all IT initiatives were handled just…well….on the fly?
I’m not saying that IT technical professionals are disorganized individuals. Not at all. I’ve worked with them all of my professional life…I am one. They’re very intelligent. It’s just that they have their own things to worry about. Design, Development, Software and Data Integration, Testing, System Testing, Deployment, etc. And I’m not really talking about what if there were no Project Managers. The question is, what if there was no Project Management?
I believe that on small engagements, it is possible – and I’ve seen it done – that an organized and talented Business Analyst can handle many if not all of the Project Management-related tasks. And perform them well enough to keep the customer and project delivery team informed and satisfied. But what if there was no Project Management at all? That’s what I want to examine.
No Project Management?!
What are the primary Project Management tasks? Let’s examine those first. I believe that the key tasks are:
- Project status reporting
- Project schedule management
- Conducting regular project status meetings
- Project budget and resource management
- Coordinating all project communications
No Status Reporting
So, looking at these individually, what happens if there is no one producing on-going project status reports? I think most projects would get out of the gate ok without project status reporting. However going very long without this mechanism and the issues and risk management that goes along with it would be disastrous. The status report is what drives the formal communication between the delivery team and the customer team.
No Project Schedule
What about the project schedule. Because the technical resources on the delivery team are talented and know their responsibilities, I’m confident that most of the time they could prevail and deliver a solution to the customer without a project schedule in place. However, what would happen with customer satisfaction. I believe it would fall through the floor. Without a schedule in place, things are just happening.
Development starts after Design is complete, but when is that? Testing starts after Design, but when is that? And at what point should test cases and scenarios be created for both system testing and UAT? Chances are, someone will just remember that in needs to be done, but most likely that will be at the last minute. And for UAT, the customer needs key resources available to perform those tasks. These resources may be coming to a central location from all over the country to perform UAT tasks. Can this happen without advanced planning? No, definitely not.
No Budget Management
Without a project schedule in place, what should have been a 6 month project would easily become a 9-12 month project without anyone knowing it because there was no real expectation. That leads us into budget management. If what should have been a 6 month engagement ends up running for 12 months, does the customer pay double? Yes.
They customer may not realize that in great detail, because remember….without Project Management we don’t have that detail. However, it is likely that all of this ambiguity will leave the customer less than satisfied…without really knowing why. And that’s probably worse than having a good reason and allowing the delivery team to address that known reason.
No Formal Meetings
Let’s also look at formal communication. I’ve already covered project status reporting, which is a major form of formal project communications. But the PM is also the leader of ongoing, regularly scheduled project status meetings. Without a PM, those could still happen. But without Project Management, that concept is gone. No formal meetings means no formal communication. Thus, we rely on adhoc communication and sometimes that will be enough. However, I think all PMs can attest to the fact that without regular, formal status meetings most team members on both sides would be horribly under-informed and nobody would be on the same page at any given time.