Increasingly, complexity is the name of the game in project management. For enterprise-level service organizations, challenges come from both inside and outside the business. Particular projects carry inherent complexity, while the evolving nature of project management continually expands the methodologies, techniques and tools at managers’ disposal.
So how can project managers keep projects on track while keeping stakeholders informed and continuing to serve customers? Let’s take a look at some common sources of enterprise complexity and discuss some solutions for managing it.
The (Expected) Unexpected
The biggest hurdle in projects today is a lack of visibility and predictability. Without a clear understanding of the potential risks and setbacks that lie ahead, it’s difficult to make informed decisions about how to act to keep the project on track.
It’s important for PMs to recognize that some unpredictability is unavoidable. While risk management and resource management are designed to mitigate problems as best as possible – and you should use best practices in both areas – these approaches do not predict the future.
The best way to deal with uncertainty is to embrace it from the beginning. When setting expectations with stakeholders, be as clear as you can about areas where the unexpected might arise. Recognize and communicate about the team or project’s limitations, and embed flexibility into your processes.
Project management is a growing field with a number of methodologies that continue to be refined. Some common methodologies include:
- Waterfall – The oldest project management methodology, the waterfall approach consists of a single sequence of tasks that are each dependent on the previous step. Waterfall management works well for projects with familiar steps, requirements and solutions.
- Agile – In contrast to the waterfall method, agile management completes projects in “sprints” or project cycles, producing a small subset of deliverables in each cycle. This can foster more flexibility, allowing the team to make adjustments mid-project.
- Critical Path and Critical Chain – These two related methodologies focus on the set or sequence of tasks that are most essential to the project’s timely completion.
- Lean – This process-based methodology focuses on reducing waste and improving efficiency.
Because each methodology has its strengths, weaknesses and priorities, it’s not uncommon for one enterprise to use different methodologies for different projects – or even on a single project – based on project theme, project scope, stakeholder needs, resources and manager experience. Navigating across methodologies can create vast operational challenges for PMs and project teams.
To learn more about how to navigate each methodology, read our blog on How to Manage Multiple Project Management Methodologies.
Decentralization Adds Complexity
Successful project management depends on effective collaboration. Team members must be able to communicate with each other, with stakeholders and/or with consultants. Distributed or remote workforces can erode this collaboration, creating confusion and ultimately project delays. But the solution isn’t necessarily abolishing distributed workforces, either. Instead, organizations can embrace project management tools that facilitate collaboration, adaptability and efficiency.
Project Tracking and Feedback
Even when your whole team is gathered in one place, tracking project progress and feedback can be difficult in today’s complex project management climate. Enterprises must create processes for integrating subsystems throughout the project lifecycle. Choosing methodologies wisely can help with this, as well as using technology to facilitate workflow tracking.
Likewise, enterprises should embed the collection and implementation of feedback into their processes – otherwise lessons learned from previous failures will be lost.
Fight Complexity with Good Tools
While no tool can help you predict the future or rewind time, software can help you weather the storms by standardizing processes and increasing collaboration. Project management software like Clarizen is designed to bring team members and stakeholders together on one platform while tracking workflow and feedback, reducing complexity through increased communication and efficiency. To learn more, see a demo today.