“Begin with the End in Mind.” This is a quote from Stephen Covey and it is Habit # 2 of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I was recently reminded of this quote by a post on Twitter and it struck me…this is key thinking for Project Managers and, in fact, all business professionals who have responsibility for success in some facet of their existence. Begin with the end in mind.
“Begin with the End in Mind means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen.” This is straight from the 7 Habits book. In my opinion, this applies to both the project view and the daily view of what a project manager is up against.
First, let’s look at the daily view. From a daily standpoint, the PM is interested in completing tasks, delivery status, communication and updates and getting to the end point of the day with both the delivery team and the customer team well informed and the proper progress made on the current tasks.
Now, does that mean that every single day the PM needs an update on every single active task? No, I don’t think so. That would be overkill. However, the critical tasks and the tasks that may be in danger of causing the project timeline or budget to slide – basically what’s hot right now and what’s at risk – need to be watched daily. At the end of the day, those are the tasks that the PM, the delivery team, and the customer team need to know are being taken care of and are still in alignment with the overall project goals and timeline.
From a project view standpoint, the end goals have already been set in the sales process, reviewed in the Kickoff session and well documented in the Statement of Work. And, of course, the end goals are laid out in detail in the project plan that is being revised and delivered every week and reviewed as part of a formal weekly status meeting with the customer.
Everything that happens on the project needs to be looked at with the project’s end goals in mind. That includes issues that come up, risks that are reviewed and hopefully mitigated, and definitely any potential scope issues that arise. All scope issues must be reviewed in detail and analyzed to ensure that additional work that must be performed is still in alignment with the project’s end goals and the customer’s “to-be” business processes. If project changes in the form of change orders are not in alignment with the end goals of the project, then the SOW must go back for detailed review to ensure that these potential changes are not moving the delivery team and the customer off track leaving everyone with an end solution that, once implemented, will not satisfy the customer’s needs and goals for the project.
It is critical to not be blind once the project is underway. It’s easy to get bogged down with the everyday tasks of managing a project and developing and implementing the customer solution. What’s sometimes hard is maintaining the high-level view of the project’s end goals and ensuring that the final solution is still aligned with the customer’s wants and needs.