Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Project Management - Adding Value

I once tracked actual time against projects using Google Docs, and would download the information into Excel. As a power user, I could easily create advanced charts to show where we used our resources, our effectiveness, and used this to help plan future projects. When another tool was implemented a couple years ago, I decided to stop this practice. Why do double work... especially when it didn't add sufficient value to justify double tracking every project. The analytics that this process provided would have justified the extra effort. In hindsight, this was an extremely powerful tool.

As you approach project management, I'm a strong believer in the kiss principle. Keep it simple stupid. The more detail you add, the more time you manage the management of your project. That's great... until you realize that you manage the project to add value to your customers, not to justify your role.

Approach every project with the question on how you add value... and if you were your customer, would you pay $50 per hour (or some other arbitrary number) for someone to perform this task? If you can't answer yes... then you aren't adding value.

I have benefited from the experience of working for some very savvy business men. Early in my career, my experience on the leadership at Jennmar Corporation was extremely critical in the formation of my work ethic and values. I gained an understanding of why it's critical to service our external customers... and the importance of recognizing internal customers and providing excellent service to both. Frank and Jim - thank you. These individuals demonstrated a unique knowledge of their customers, their organization, and their products. The set high standards for their employees and their products, and looked for ways to add value in the services they offered to their customers.

That said, I've worked for... and with people that don't add value -- or even worse, they add negative value. How can you add negative value? Create an atmosphere where people are stagnated by an aversion to risk, or one where they are compelled to justify every action. You soon see a failure to innovate and add value. Sometimes you need to accept reasonable risk... mitigate where you can... and have a plan to fall back in case a failure occurs. Successes become home runs, and failures become learning opportunities which lead to future success. So go big... with a plan... then go home... and enjoy you're evening knowing that you are truly adding value.