Why is project management important for the professions?

Posted on: December 30, 2013

Project management is a discipline in its own right. Anyone with management responsibilities will know how important it is in any change programme. Those in the construction industry will also be familiar with its techniques and methods. Technology people understand that implementing and rolling out new systems requires careful project management.  But why is project management important for the professions?

Back in 2009, the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) created a new module in its highly-regarded post graduate professional examinations called “Project Management in marketing” and I teach this course both in the UK and overseas. But it is increasingly important for lawyers, accountants, surveyors and other professions as well.

As all markets continue to go through profound and relentless change it is only those firms who are flexible and agile enough to make timely changes to their infrastructure, systems, processes and behaviour that will succeed. Effective change management is now essential.

Most professionals are good at analysing situations and garnering support for decisions for change programmes. However, implementation is often a stumbling block. Especially as many firms grapple with multiple, complex change programmes and staff become change weary.

In addition to supporting change for the management of a professional practice, project management is becoming increasingly important for tackling large scale client assignments. When you have a team of over 50 professionals embarking on a complex multijurisdictional transaction that is likely to last many months, you will need smart project management to ensure that everything goes to plan. In some respects, it’s a surprise that more professions don’t have project management as one of their required core competencies.

It’s also becoming increasingly important that client projects are planned out well in advance if the pricing is to be properly calculated to maximise profitability and client satisfaction. How can you confidently quote a fixed fee unless you have considered all aspects of the work and possible variations, considered the risks, mapped out the required resources and detailed what needs to happen and when at each step of the way?

To illustrate what’s involved, here’s an outline of a five stage iterative project management process:

INITIATE

Identify stakeholders

Agree project worth doing

Assess risks

Determine goals

Determine results

Define expectations for each stakeholder group

Define project scope

Develop a SOW (Statement of Work)

PLAN

Refine project scope

List tasks and activities

Sequence activities

Develop a workable schedule

Get the plan approved

EXECUTE

Lead the team

Meet team members

Communicate with stakeholders

Fire fight and resolve conflicts

Secure necessary resources

CONTROL

Monitor progress and deviations from plan

Take corrective action

Receive and evaluate project changes

Reschedule project if necessary

Adapt resource levels

Change project scope

Return to planning stage to make adjustments

Document and gain approval for changes to plans

CLOSE

Shut processes and disband team

Lean from project experience

Review project process and outcomes

Write a final project report

 

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