3 Steps to delivering high-value projects, why you should stop doing more with less.
“We must do more with less.” This over-used phrase is often heard in organizations who recently downsized or who experience rapid growth but can’t or won’t staff up to handle it. One area where this phrase is often heard is in the delivery of projects. Many organizations rely on the same group of people to operate their business and deliver projects to enhance the organization at the same time – with less than optimal results.
The “do more with less” approach creates scenarios where operational and production emergencies can delay or stop value-adding projects and programs. Rather than deliver hoped-for cost-savings and efficiencies, this approach causes inefficiencies while lowering morale and causing turnover. The “do more with less” approach automatically puts an organization’s projects at risk when the same people are doing everything. The risks come in two forms: tactical risks to the projects themselves, and strategic risks, from the delay in return on investment when these projects take much longer than desired.
Here is a novel idea – stop trying to do more with less.
Instead, deliver more by doing less:
- Focus on delivering the vital few projects in shorter time-frames.
- Put the organization’s best people on cross-functional teams dedicated to these vital few high-value strategic projects.
- Get these done fast without allowing production and operations matters to interfere.
To put it another way – don’t delay high-value projects by assigning the same people to handle production and operations as well as deliver these projects. This applies to the business as well as technology teams. As every company becomes a technology company, the organization’s best business and technology people must be dedicated to value-creating technology projects.
This is a significant change in strategic thinking and structure. Most companies still organize and hire functionally and treat projects as exceptions to functional assignments. This approach requires companies to organize, plan and hire based on strategic projects that can continuously transform the company.
This approach also requires the conscious development of organizational structure and hiring models that start new people and teams in operational and “keep the lights on” roles, while constantly grooming subject matter experts (SMEs) and technologists who can apply their growing experience almost exclusively to improving the business through strategic projects.
Identifying and correcting the risks and inefficiencies caused by the “do more with less” syndrome requires senior leaders to examine resource assignments within their project and program portfolios. If the same resources are assigned to multiple projects and are also responsible for operations and solving production issues, the organization is at risk of delaying their portfolio of value-creating projects.
Shawn Belling, M.S., PMP, PMI-ACP, CSP, is a globally-experienced project management practitioner and instructor. He is a senior consultant for Farwell Project Advisors LLC and has held executive and management roles in software, consulting, bio-pharma, manufacturing, and regulatory compliance sectors. Shawn is also adjunct faculty at the University of Wisconsin with over 25 years of project and program management leadership experience. He teaches, speaks and consults on various project management topics and was awarded a PMI Kerzner Scholarship in 2008. Shawn writes about methodologies and project planning.