Understanding the Importance of Hyper Efficient Project Management for Coping with Changes in Customer Demands

Author: Ian Needs

The fundamental pillars of tight project management are the same for any size of business, from the small and medium enterprise, up to the larger corporate.

The first pillar is the core skill set that you take to market – the talents and expertise that your fee-earners bring, the developers that help bring your products to market and add value for your clients. That’s your main competence; the experience you offer and the way you do things that offer insights to your clients and deliver great products. Your competitive advantage if you like.

The other pillar is the entire support structure you wrap around the delivery of these core products and services. This is the engine that powers the machine. It’s where billing is taken care of, costs are taken into account, schedules updated, timelines enforced, resources managed and allocated. This is the engine room where everything has to be firing on all cylinders at all times to make sure your business makes a profit…make sure your products and services are delivered on time…make sure that everything that can be put in place to support on-time, on-budget delivery, is put in place. It’s also where project control ensures the tight management of resources and gives you the ability to see everything at a glance – project status, who is where doing what. This overview is critical in managing change.

This is where every little detail counts and the ability to cope with change every time it impacts your company’s actions is absolutely central to increasing client satisfaction, increasing your own profitability and driving quality product delivery.

So, we’re talking about that ‘pillar of support’…managing projects so hyper efficiently that nothing gets missed or overlooked. Not letting any details slip through. I know this almost makes it sound like project management is just a preventative function because I’ve just been talking about stopping things from happening.

Well, in a way it is; that’s the essence of good project management, a tool to reduce risk, improve planning, ensure the efficient use of resource and support informed decision making.

Winning Project Managers build in parameters to cope with change so that when it does happen it doesn’t control you, throw plans off course, timings off schedule and maybe even throwing profit out the window…you control it.

When you control change, and show clients how your organization can respond effectively and still attain excellence in product and service delivery…then you go beyond client expectations. You validate your company’s expertise even further. You demonstrate that you practice the best principles of project management but you do them better than most.

You Deliver the best…better – leading product and service delivery through rigorous and stringent project management practices and frameworks.

Any Project Manager adopting such approaches needs visibility of exactly what’s going on, in real-time. You need to feel confidently in control by being able to survey the complete project landscape both at an individual project level – to make sure it’s progressing as it should be, hitting the milestones it should be hitting, and making the profit it should be making – and across all inflight projects at any one point in time. You need to be in a position to allocate resources as and when necessary to respond to and to pre-empt change. That means visibility into status against every stage of the project lifecycle – right down to how individual consultants and developers are spending their time, how tasks and deliverables are progressing, and what their next expected and required actions or inputs are.

Individual members of staff can’t control all this. Apart from the complexity of it, there would be enormous man-hour requirements and you could even end up in a bizarre situation where the costs of running the project support chip away at the profitability of the project itself. What’s the answer?

Project Portfolio Management can help you respond to changes in customer demand effectively and in a controlled fashion that dovetails with your financial and resource constraints so that there’s no upheaval, no panic, no scrabbling round trying to resolve resourcing issues.

When customers change their minds, amend the brief, request new features, expect more or expect it faster, or add new locations to the scope…or even just ask you to make an urgent status update…you’ve got the choice of two responses. Choice one is to say no. It’s not a choice because that’s how you lose business. So, choice two is to do your level best to respond.

This is where hyper-efficient project management practices are pivotal in driving the competitive advantage by making you stand out above your peers, but also doing it in a controlled fashion that makes sure that the unexpected has been built into contingency plans from the start…you know how to allocate additional or replacement resources quickly, because you know where they are and whether they can be released from their current commitment…you know how to accelerate the project, you know how to make that deliverable tomorrow without any adverse knock-on effect to your existing schedule or to the company’s profitability.

When demands evolve, you need to take action. You also need to ensure that your customers, and your own team, understand the consequences on delivery costs and deadlines.

Project Portfolio Management gives you the project automation tools to do just that, providing full visibility of budgets and schedules and enabling you to assess fully the impact of any proposed changes. That means you can manage expectations more closely and so drive satisfaction.

If you would like to find out more about how Project Portfolio Management can provide the real-time visibility that helps assess the impact of proposed changes on planned delivery and resource usage then read our latest Ideas in Action Paper, Coping with Changes in Customer Demand.