When your technology supplier provides you with a cost quote for a piece of work, which includes a line-item for project management, do you immediately think, “I can save X% of the budget by declining this service?” You are not alone.
However, this approach is repeatedly counterproductive to the smooth delivery of projects. Project Managers are vital to the success of any technology implementation. They serve as both the central engine that powers project delivery and the glue that holds the various moving parts together.
Let’s take a look at why you need external Project Managers for your technology deployments:
It’s indisputable that every technology implementation, big or small, has risks associated with it. A key function of Project Managers is to help manage those risks in the most efficient manner, ideally pre-empting them, so that timely project delivery isn’t jeopardised. Due to the varied nature of projects they manage, they are able to call upon a substantive library of expertise and experience, which underpins their knowledge. Project Managers are also adept at identifying the risks that reside in your (i.e. client) side of the business. They bring a fresh pair of ‘external’ eyes to the risks, that perhaps an internal resource might not see, due to their proximity to the programme.
In any project delivery, it’s imperative to have a good understanding and control over the resources available. Project Managers look after resourcing and scheduling on a daily basis, including managing unexpected absences, so that the impact on delivery is minimised. No project is undertaken in isolation, and so Project Managers are adept at coordinating the delivery with other dependant implementations that may be simultaneously happening too. Crucially, they are able to help identify any constraints that might exist in your own project delivery lifecycle. For instance, do you need a specific form/process to be followed to get you through stage gates? External Project Managers will ‘mould’ their own processes to help you achieve such goals.
Project Management isn’t an overhead,
it is key to successful technology delivery.
Communication and collaboration
The importance of communication should never be underestimated for project delivery. Project Managers provide regular updates – both written and verbal – on the progress of the project’s delivery. You can make it as detailed or high level as you want the update to be. For instance, some clients merely ask for a summary on project progress, while the others look for a weekly breakdown of cost/effort against each task, which they can further drill down into using a supplier-client portal that most technology providers offer to customers.
To a large extent, good communication also facilitates productive collaboration between the supplier and client teams. It encourages a positive attitude towards problem solving and team work that is essential for any technology implementation. Drawing on a football analogy, I think of Project Managers akin to Goalkeepers – regardless of which side we are on, we understand and appreciate the challenges we all face in our roles and hence are very fair in our analysis of our peers. Effective and efficient communication leads to trust and camaraderie between parties and in my experience, where this exists, the projects are almost always successful.
Project Management isn’t an overhead, it is key to successful technology delivery. More pertinently, without it, you cannot take advantage of the incremental experience, knowledge and skills of someone whose job it is to successfully deliver similar types of projects week after week, year after year.