Our blog series – “Master Project Management” covers some of the essentials of the art and science of project management. It talks about deﬁning true needs, building a solid team, and performing a ﬁnancial analysis. It addresses how you can ﬁnd the right balance points between extremes like “managing everything vs. managing nothing” and “doing work yourself vs. letting the team do everything.” This series will help develop the foundation you need to become a high performing project manager.
Understand the True Need
At the beginning of a project, it’s natural to have a picture in your head about how everything will unfold. Then reality sets in. Unanticipated problems and opportunities arise. Data show that customer needs are different than what everyone thought. Your choice: continue with the original plan or change the plan based on lessons learned. Successful organizations favor the latter. They recognize that exposing and solving the true need—the most basic problem—will pay greater returns in the long run.
Identifying the true need can be tricky. For one thing, many times a project is deﬁned as a solution rather than a need to be fulﬁlled. Effective project managers always delve for the true needs because they may ﬁnd alternative ways of meeting that need that are faster, cheaper, more efficient, etc., than the original solution. What company wouldn’t be happy if a team could double on time delivery without installing a new production line?
To probe for a true need without treading on toes:
Document the problem or opportunity: Describe the gap between current performance levels and where you need to be. List the effect of this gap, including the impact on people inside and outside your company. Describe the risks of ignoring this gap and the beneﬁts of closing it.
Share the document: Use the documentation as the basis for a discussion with the functional manager sponsoring the project. Present it as your interpretation of the current state and ask for input and clariﬁcation.
Get approval to focus on the true need: If you proceed without approval, your performance may suffer because you did not achieve the original project goal.
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“Project Management: 24 Lessons to Help You Master Any Project” by Gary R. Heerkens is a copyrighted work of McGraw-Hill and McGraw-Hill reserves all rights in and to the Content. ©2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. Purchase the book on Amazon.