The one thing missing in projects – time to manage them

There are many aha moments for participants on our project management training courses. (Aha – a moment of clarity, a defining moment when someone says; “I can use that in my project!”)

Clearly, the learning points come at different times for different people. Over the last few months a pattern has started to emerge where participants on our courses seem collectively to take a deep breath and realise the size of the task ahead of them – the aha moment!

Where does this happen? It is when we look at producing a work and product breakdown structure (WBS). We use a post it note process for this activity and after about 30 minutes with lots of post it notes plastering the walls I receive comments such as:

• this takes a lot longer than I thought

• wow, the amount of detail here is huge

• I never realised there was so much involved

In the evaluation of the process and its use back in the work place there is universal support on the need for the process but some worried faces!

The reason; the time it takes.

Reviewing the process to create a WBS the comment that has started to come through and come through with more emphasis is that this all takes time; time that those on the course have neither got nor thought was needed. Interestingly, some of the groups suggest that their project sponsor does not appreciate the amount of time the process takes.

The discussions show course participants are concerned about the time taken – on WBS and throughout the project lifecycle. There is apparently little or no time for project management!

When I challenge individuals to think through the implications of what they are saying some do suggest that there is a need to look at self organisation; how they actually manage all their work. One person suggested: “There is little point in saying no to say doing a projects we have to look for better ways to manage ourselves.” Another suggested: “Develop the skills of project management and apply them to business as usual; this should help”

The training really does point to a need for time to manage projects. The problem is few have any time in the diary for this important aspect.

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2 Responses to The one thing missing in projects – time to manage them

  1. Right points, Ron. Judging from my personal experience, when I take over a project from somebody and jump in in the middle of it, there is rarely time to organize it better. Having to execute it at the same time, I have to work on planning and reorganization simultaniously.

    • Thanks Stan. You raise an interesting issue.

      It does help if there is some documentation to follow. Interestingly, the very act of producing this paperwork (paper trail) is the criticism often levelled at project management – the time taken. But, it is the paper work that will save you time.

      I also think that in situation where someone takes over a project as you describe or starts a project there may be things that have to stop or be put on hold. This is not often recognised.

      Of course, the key issue is that all projects demand time of the project manager and project team. It’s how we all create/make that time that counts.

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