Cowshed Projects - Better projects and profit from flexible project management
The utopia on all projects is getting the best quality, in the quickest time, for the least amount of money. It’s everyone’s goal … why wouldn’t it be, we want it all!
Most clients, although dreamers, are semi realistic and expect something close to what they think the tender is. But they don’t set out to the shop to buy 2 pints of blue top for the £2.10 advertised and expect to end up with a pint of out-of-date skimmed milk for £4.
Unfortunately, this is often the case of what they get. Why? Well, they walk into the shop and the blue top is only available in 4 pints at a cost of £4.15. There is only one left. Then they phone home to find out what they should get, by which time it’s been sold.
I had a boss that used to demand better quality, cheaper price and having it yesterday, all the time. He was successful at pushing the projects to a higher level, but always ended up with the out-of-date skimmed milk. Just maybe got two pints of it instead of one and allways 3 hours after breakfast!
This translates to a client trying to get to a specification as well as a production company trying to deliver a project.
The idea of this is being, if you set out to get the best of all 3 criteria, that’s good. But at the same time, you end up going round in circles. You can’t focus and make a decision on all three at the same time. To move on you have to have the focus on one criteria more than another. If there is no direction as to what that criteria is, everyone stops, paralysed. They are not able to move forward or are scared of the finger being pointed at them. Ultimately, achieving all three can’t happen at once.
I’ve noticed on projects, there is a definite pattern of importance or see saw of the 3 holy grails … at the start, quality is on the ascendancy. There is time to make it, and the costs will be sorted later. Then there is the middle section, when it is realised the costs are rocketing and need value engineering. Then, once the costs have been reduced comes the realisation that there is no time left and the program is now the main focus ….. Just get it done! ….. Oh, and of course ‘we want the quality we thought we wanted at the start, which we had to value engineer when we realised the costs were to high …. but we don’t want to pay to expedite the works and now we have run out of time.’
I think that this flow is a normal human reaction to a project. You dream and want the best, but can you afford it? Then you’ve spent too much time deliberating, so you just buy what you can. This is the “project goal see saw”.
This inevitably leads to missing the best of all 3 goals. The project Is perceived as a failure.
Every project is different and when managing it you need to keep an eye on the criteria that isn’t being focused on by everyone else. But how do you do that without paralysing the project? Well, it is difficult.
The best way, I think, is instead of focusing on goals, which should always be there, is to managed them by priorities. Let the team know which of the priorities are being focused on at that point. Then they don’t get so frustrated, can make and understand decisions and keep being forward focused, ready for the next criteria of the project see saw rising.
Don’t fight it, feel it.
Then, when the cost warning hooter sounds, you are ready. When the program panic alarm sounds, you have some answers to deal with it.
This is forward thinking management and will save you time and money in the long run.
I'd love to hear your views, experiences and comments and if you're interested in finding out more, drop me a line.
Thanks for reading
Hi I'm Simon. I've worked in projects for a while now, either management or design. I love projects but they're frustrating. Hope some of this help you.