Have you ever had to go to a meeting to try to explain why your project is delayed? Remember the knot in your stomach? As you are taking the last few steps down the corridor to enter the conference room you’re thinking, “how am I going to explain to executive management that the revenues they were planning on this fiscal year is not going to happen?” How do you do that and not come out of the meeting looking like the Headless Horseman? Project Management is key not only to monitor project status but more importantly, setting clear expectations at the start of the project. There are multiple benefits to creating a clear, concise project management plan ranging from the qualitative to quantitative. A few of these include direction, accountability, resource allocation, project costs vs. budget, employee development, skill discovery and lessons learned. However, all of those benefits are in competition with corporate expectations of meeting project deadlines that are aggressive, budgets that are tightly controlled and resources that are typically overwhelmed and understaffed. The first step in developing a solid project plan is for the project manager to spend the necessary time in the beginning stages to ensure the project is properly understood and agreed to in terms of scope, resources, time and budget by the sponsors, project manager and project team. Then, developing the actual project plan with the team is invaluable for buy-in as the project gets underway. Proper project planning can also proactively sound the alarm when the project encounters resource constraints, cost overruns, time conflicts, etc. This allows for the sponsors and the project team to make informed decisions regarding the completion of the project without unpleasant surprises. The project manager is the bridge between corporate sponsors and the project team. The project manager must navigate between the tugs of aggressive deadlines to launch a product or announce a new line extension at the next conference and the pulls with the actual project timelines, realities and constraints. Successfully juggling these forces will mean success with the project, the team, the corporation and the project manager’s sanity.
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