5 questions that you should contemplate before starting a project
In a lot of different scenarios, there are more people getting affected by the outcome of a successful or failed project, than just the project manager and his or her team. In some extreme cases, the whole organization’s fate might actually depend on a single project, and it’s crucial to consider every small detail to make sure everything proceeds smoothly.
When we think about each project as something more than just another big task that needs to be completed and take a look from a broader perspective, it can help understand where does each next completed project fit in the overall picture of the company and its future opportunities for advancement.
To make things clear, when we say stakeholder, we mean any individual, group, or organization, who may affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision, activity, or outcome of a project.
So here are the five questions that are needed to consider the organization and its stakeholders.
1. Who will be doing the work?
When a new project arrives, it’s important to look at its completion from a broader perspective than just providing the end deliverables and receiving money for that. Each project represents a certain amount of risk and opportunity for the company both in case of success and failure and, it’s important to figure out the best way to nullify the risks right of the bat, while try and maximize the successful outcomes and take advantage of any opportunities in the meantime.
When I say risks and opportunities, don’t think of something big: it’s not like you will lose your business if you fail a project (or a few aspects of it), nor you will be able to grow your annual profits hundredfold just by taking advantage of a small opportunity.
Try looking at this from a mosaic perspective: when you have a giant puzzle that eventually fits together into a big picture (you company vision), but consists of a thousand small pieces (your projects), each time you put a mosaic in the correct place, you move one step closer to completing the overall picture. Similarly, when you make a wrong move, you are pushed back and sometimes forced to do the whole thing over and over again and basically get stuck in the same place.
In a study presented by the PMI, 39 mega projects of high complexity were examined and six key success factors were identified and among those 6, the following three are just what you need here:
1. Identify non-financial benefits of the project
2. Ensure the benefits are realistic and achievable
3. Evaluate the impact of the project in achieving the strategic goals
The study discusses the importance of those success keys and shows how governmental bodies (which usually handle the most complex projects out there) ensure project success while looking at the whole thing from a different, larger view.
When thinking which team you should assign to each new project, keep the puzzle in mind: which team is best suited to find the right place of the particular puzzle piece (which team can complete the project with the most impact considering the organization as a whole) that will fit in the overall picture, and assign it to them
2. Who will be the project manager?
Similarly to choosing the right team, you will next need to choose the best PM for the given case. Every team and PM has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to delivering end results and you should be able to find the right candidate for the work.
Another study by PMI has brought together some of the greatest practices of the world’s best PMOs together and identified that the best PMOs have a few things in common:
- 75% PMOs coach and mentor their project managers
- 64% Manage project managers
- 65% Evaluate project manager competency
Again, it’s not just about delivering the project successfully: it’s about making the most out of the potential opportunities while delivering it, identifying them and when possible, taking advantage of those in a way, that would push the whole organization one step further in terms of growth and revenue.
3. Who is paying for the project?
This is an important question which urges you to consider your client (assuming it’s an external project) or your own company (in case of internal projects).
It’s important to evaluate all the potential outcomes for each case and try and come up with the best approach that will take into consideration the person who pays for the project (your client or yourself).
This basically means that when a client asks for something, you should obviously aim to deliver what they want with maximum precision, but also try to add anything from your side as an industry leader, that will undoubtedly benefit them.
This kind of strategy will always leave you one step ahead from the competition because the word and reputation will spread like fire about you as “the guys who over deliver, in a positive manner”.
Even if it’s a tiny bit of service or a piece of useful advice that doesn’t fit into your project scope, but is in your prerogative as an industry leader, will work just fine.
Similarly, if you are the one paying for the project (you are undergoing a change for instance), it will be in your best interest to try and involve as many people into the process as you can, and use their ideas, expertise and knowledge to achieve something more, something greater in addition to what you initially planned to.
Here is a great presentation about project management best practices, which explains all the key concepts about project management best practices and the importance of taking a look at the bigger picture.
4. Who will consume the product or service?
The next step is to think about the end user and his or her experience. While there may be different scenarios (you develop something for your company’s internal use, you develop a product for a client, your developed product is going to be sold by your clients to consumers, etc.) the end goal is pretty much the same: to deliver the most outstanding experience (that’s the obvious part) that you are capable of producing, and also having a surprise element that will push the borders of competition further down in terms of you being the absolute best company to work with.
Studies have proven that in 49% of the cases, the reputation of the company in the eyes of consumers directly depends on the CEO. Moreover, 60% of a company’s market value is derived from its reputation. This makes it all the more clear why taking into account consumers matters so much.
The end user, regardless of who that happens to be, needs to be stunned by your work. When you are able to achieve this outcome with each project, you will get a few steps closer to achieving your vision.
5. Who are those affected by the project?
Lastly, you want to think about everyone who will be affected by the project (yourself, the client, end users, etc.) This is basically a summary of the whole thing and as an organization, you need to make sure that all affected parties get the most out of your work. Surely, it’s virtually impossible to satisfy everyone, every time, but it’s the strive that matters: the more you try to do this, the better for your company in the long run.
Thinking about the organization and all stakeholders is a very complex task and you probably won’t be able to achieve satisfying results on the first try. Not even second, maybe not even 10th. But the truth is that as long as you keep this in mind and really aim towards solving problems and delivering end products in a way that will be beneficial for all stakeholders, you will have that much more chance to achieve “the legend rank” among companies providing similar services as yourself in your industry.