Lessons in project management are hard won, and stumbles can be very expensive.
My hard won experience supports the contention of that great management thinker Albert Einstein, noted above. In every project that I have done that delivered sub par outcomes, at least some of the cause has been inadequate planning in one way or another, for one reason or another. Einstein may have been well known for things other than management, but that did not stop him mumbling things that should be on every managers wall as a reminder.
That experience has led me to the view that every project has four dimensions. For success you need to get them all right, 3/4 is simply not good enough, but of critical importance is the overall planning.
- Project Objectives. Having a set of objectives, expectations of the outcomes is why projects are developed, planned, funded, and executed. Being explicit about the objectives, and having everyone involved, and who may be affected, is essential.
- Project Scope. The scope describes what will and will not be done as a part of the project. Failing to have an explicit scope encourages ‘project creep’ and lessens the accountability. In the ERP implementations I have been involved in, project creep is an ever present cancer on the project, and those that failed to be absolutely explicit about the scope, and enforced it ruthlessly, failed to meet expectations in numerous ways.
- Project Budget. How much the project is expected to cost. Pretty basic, but ignored often, and subject to blow-out as the scope creeps out of control. The only ones who benefit are the consultants who either fix the problems (often they re a part of the problem) and your competitors.
- Project Timetable. Every project need s a timetable, with milestones connected to the scope and costs, as well as performance.
No project can reasonably be deemed successful unless meets or exceeds the requirements imposed by all four parameters. Anything less will deliver sub-optimal outcomes.