As law firms professionalise their organisation business services people are increasingly required to manage projects. But why do these projects so frequently overrun their deadlines?
One of the reasons might be unrealistic planning and one of the causes of unrealistic planning is that we have not identified the work as a project.
What is a project? A project can be defined as any piece of work which involves a number of people and takes a number of days to complete. The implication of identifying a piece of work as a project is that it requires a more considered approach.
Why do we need to define a project? Because once we have identified a piece of work as a project we can apply project planning tools. Sometimes we don’t recognise a piece of work to be as complex as it really is. If we underestimate its complexity then we may not plan it properly, leading us to underestimate the time required to achieve the deadline.
When we properly plan a project we start to identify and better understand its complexity. How many times have you run a project only to identify new aspects during the piece of work, but which on reflection could have been identified at the outset? We could say that things always take longer than we expect. Not necessarily that the work takes longer to do, but that it takes longer to get to that piece of work due to other priorities.
The first step to achieving more deadlines is the realistic identification of work as a project and then the application of project planning tools to that work.
Try taking a look at your current workload and see how many pieces of work you have project planned and how many you have just got on with. Reflect on the impact proper project planning might have had on this second group.
We will look at how to plan projects in future posts.