Success Is Always Measured In Business Value

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Success Is Always Measured In Business Value

Barbee Davis, M.A., PHR, PMP Omaha, Nebraska, USA

As project managers, it’s easy to get caught up in meeting our time, cost, scope, and quality baselines. The project quickly becomes an end in itself, and our personal worth becomes entwined with our ability to bring this project in according to these measurable expectations.

We need to focus on the fact that the project is only as successful as the business value it adds to the organization. If we’re producing a software product for market, the evaluation factors for “success” are clear. We need to use our project management skills to bring it this product to market quicker so we can get it sold to a large portion of the customer base before the competition is able to produce a similar or even a better product.

We need to sell to a majority of the marketplace before the demand for this item dries up. We need to design this software so that it is easy for customers to install and learn to use. It needs to be easy to maintain and update.

Many software project managers feel their job is merely to get the software completed. Without connecting the project to the business need, great software could be a failure from the organization’s return on investment (ROI) point of view.

If this is an internal project, how does this software project allow the organization to save or earn money? Will we need fewer hardware resources because what we develop is faster, more compressed, or has a better architecture? Will we be able to make more money since we can take orders faster, and process them and ship them quicker? Will we save money by creating software that needs fewer people to maintain it, or rollout an infrastructure change that lowers the number of help desk calls?

If our software projects are for a industry specific systems integrator, will the way we sequence tasks or level resources increase the profit margin to the company or buy us customer goodwill with a reputation for reliability? Will our project prowess ensure that we complete more projects faster and, thus, move us to a category with our suppliers in which we get a larger discount for hardware?

Motivating teams and making difficult decisions on the spot become easier when we understand specifically how the completion of this project is intended to benefit the company. When choosing to fund this particular project over all of those that were in contention, why was this one more important than those that were tabled for later?

Usually the project manager is not given the answer to these critical questions, so you must learn to ask. The answer can alert you to whether time, money, or quality is the key driver on the project. When you know the answer, you can prepare workarounds, alternate solutions, and know where to spend your contingency reserves to keep your project aligned with the business reason for which it was created.

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