What will go wrong with your project?

What will go wrong with your project?

​‘What can possibly go wrong?’ my teenage son exclaimed as he was dropped off in a dark field on a rainy night with two friends and a large tent they had never put up before.

I was going to pass on my knowledge of project management issues but thought you would appreciate them more than him.

The three pillars of any project are Control, Commitment and Communication.

1. Control

Who is actually in control of your project, or more specifically right down the chain of command. You as project manager are vital and at the heart but you may have a series of managers, funders and/or clients that need to be included in the mix of control. Are they clear of the element they have control of and how they fit the big picture? Share your control structure with them.

2. Commitment

There will be many players alongside yourself that need to maintain their focus on the conclusion of the project. Their commitment can be eroded by issues like competing demands from other managers or clients or lack of achievement or progress. Each project has a curve of commitment. The peak of commitment in this curve tends to be when everyone is focussed and goals are being achieved. Projects grind to a halt because the focus of the individuals is drawn away having an incremental effect on the other players.

3. Communication

Control and commitment can be maintained through good communication. This can be regular team meetings with a fixed agenda, or frequent Skype meetings. Email updates work wonders. Online project management systems that automatically send out updates to all keep bit-players involved when they may feel that nothing is happening.

I received the telephone call a couple of hours later from my son. We packed away the soggy mess of twisted sheets and tangled guy ropes. The three teenagers stood blaming each other. Control was with a person who didn’t know what to do, his co-workers quickly lost commitment and communication turned into good-natured bickering.

We returned the next day, in the daylight and I helped them put the tent up in a few minutes.

The sister blog to this is Creativity, Culture and Cash