To start, let's agree that project management is all about managing risk. There are two levels of risk for most organizations. First, there is the risk that you are working on the wrong projects, in the sense that they are not the highest return, best for achieving your strategic goals, etc. In short, most organizations work on what is urgent without clear consideration of whether it is important. Managing this risk is often called program management, program in this case referring to a group of projects.

Second, within each project, there is the risk of not achieving the most important objectives of the project. Of course, you have to decide what are the most important objectives. The important objectives may be schedule and budget objectives, but they will also likely include objectives about what the project is trying to deliver. This last set of objectives is often referred to as the "scope" of the project. Regardless of what world the project is in--construction, software development, biotechnology, manufacturing, etc.--the objectives of the project can be boiled down to scope, schedule, and budget. 

The tools used to prioritize and balance scope, schedule, and budget are the concrete tools that project managers use to manage risk. Some of these tools are familiar, and some are not. All have their place and should serve the objectives of the project. All organizations have project managers, whether they know it or not. Some people have that title. Some organizations instead spread project management throughout the organization, knowingly or unknowingly, to people without that title. Regardless of the structure, the lack of someone with the title Project Manager does not mean the lack of project management. Someone, or a group of someones, will manage the project, even if the methodology they use is benign neglect.

Our Services

Our work with organizations is in both realms, program management and project management. We start with trying to find the source of the greatest pain. What are the projects that are searing people's brains right now? Is the pain within a project or is it across projects? Is there a common vision among the leadership about what success looks like? What are the tools that will achieve that success? Etc., etc. These sound like huge, intractable problems, and sometimes they are, but more often than not, we can make important headway in a few weeks.

The first set of conversations would likely reveal the strategy that will work best for a particular group. How much time per week can the right people devote to this? As a group, how do they make decisions? As a group, how do they learn best? Is it through group exercises, lectures, off-site retreats, homework assignments, etc.? This is consultative and participatory, not formulaic, so they will guide us as much as we will guide them. From there, the journey will depend on the organization. How far do they wish to go? How far have they gone already? Those are questions that can only be answered on the ground. We can then design a plan that will work best for them.

The goal of the plan is to provide the right tools for the group to achieve their program and project management goals. The tools are surprisingly simple and effective. That tailored plan could include any combination of the following:

  • Interviews and observations to discover the source of the greatest pain
  • A class or workshop to provide the theoretical and practical background on which good program and project management is based
  • A set of specific "assignments" where the client applies the newly learned tools to his work
  • Periodic reviews to answer questions and redirect efforts

For more information, contact us at [email protected] or (734) 276-9925