Don’t get too carried away
People get carried away with the excitement of new projects, especially where they involve product launches. As a result, too many people want to go for the full scope from day 1.
Add in a bit too much optimism about when it can be delivered and what it’s going to cost and you can end up with a product development that is out of control, and particularly for small and medium businesses (SMEs), unfortunate appointments with the bank manager and sleepless nights.
Big projects are inherently more risky
In my experience, the bigger the project gets, the greater the pressure to reduce cost estimates and deliver fast, which of course adds exponentially to the probability of getting it wrong.
Big projects are inherently risky and they rarely deliver on time and on budget. Smaller projects are a lot more successful. Government is teeming with examples of projects that were too big, but had to be delivered before the next election, so went ahead anyway and failed miserably.
Take too big a risk with a product development as a small or medium business business (SME) and you might not have a business left. It’s important that those involved in SME Project Management appreciate this and are not afraid to challenge the views of their management.
Look to split big projects into a series of smaller ones
Try to look to split a big project into a number of smaller ones, each of which delivers something that you can release into production.
Smaller projects are easier to manage, deliver functionality earlier, give you more flexibility to react to market changes and allow greater scope for collaborative working between business/customers and developers, which tends to become more difficult, the larger a project becomes.
It can appear difficult to split a project into smaller components, and is likely to stretch the overall timeframe out, but experience shows that large projects hardly ever deliver on time, so the apparent stretching of timeframes is illusory.
SME Project Management is a difficult job, often requiring managers to run several projects simultaneously and fight for scarce resources. The appeal of running a big project can be very tempting, but don’t bite off more than your organisation can chew. Elephants on the rampage are dangerous beasts!
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Gren Gale is a consultant specialising in Project Management and Procurement and is owner of PM Results