Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Research, Procrastination & Doing Project Management

I have just been completing some research that is helping me to identify and analyse the possible scope of a project that I will be managing later this summer. During this research, one of the most difficult things has been knowing when to stop reading about the subject and when to start thinking about it. There comes a time when continual research is interesting, but is procrastination - I am reading because I don't want to start the difficult process of sifting through all of the information and coming to a conclusion. the infinite number of information sources available to me via Google, Yahoo etc means that deciding when enough is enough is an act of self discipline. This wasn't always the case. At the risk of sounding very old, when i became a project manager 20 years ago, the research I could do on the possible scope and deliverables of any of my projects involved a visit to the company library, reading professional journals and talking to friends in the same industry. Ultimately, there was never very much about the specifics of my project (usually my project was to launch a new IT systems and changing internal working practices to accommodate them, so fairly specialised).

Anyway, this 'self discipline' made me wonder how I know when I have enough information. Ultimately, it comes down to my level of expertise and the experience I have built up over the years. I use the PRINCE2 methodology for the basis of my projects and I use the skills I have been taught through various APM courses (their APMP qualification primarily) to define the requirements and scope my project using techniques including work breakdown structures, bottom up estimating, analysis techniques and the ability to sift for information on risks and the likely bottle necks of resources involved.

I think project managers are under more pressure than ever to speed through the planning stage of their projects, and to agree with senior management what will be delivered, so that their organisations can show that initiatives are under way and that progress is being made. Therefore, hitting the mid point between too much research and insufficient detail to create a workable plan is going to become a key determinant of whether project managers are seen to be contributing to the business or holding it back.

No comments:

Post a Comment