“Why is project management important?”
…is an interesting question that clients sometimes pose. They’ll ask: “Can’t we just brief the
team doing the work and manage them ourselves? It’ll be loads cheaper.”
They wonder if they really need project management because on paper it looks like an
unnecessary expense. Many people think that project managers don’t really deliver anything.
Some executives even believe that project managers get in the way of what they want the team
to do! Project management is often thought to be an unnecessary burden on the budget, and
there’s no doubt it can be expensive – as much as 20% of the overall project budget.
The truth is, running projects without good project management is a false economy. The real
question should be…
“Can you afford to not have project management?”
Without it, what holds the team and client together?
Without it, who is left to navigate through the ups and downs, clashes and catastrophes of
Great project management means much more than keeping project management’s iron triangle
in check (delivering on time, budget, and scope). It unites clients and teams, creates a vision
for success and gets everyone on the same page of what’s needed to stay on track for success.
When projects are managed properly, there’s a positive impact that reverberates beyond
delivery of ‘the stuff’.
Project management is important because it works for companies in these ten vital areas:
- Strategic Alignment
- Clear Focus & Objectives
- Realistic Project Planning
- Quality Control
- Risk Management
- Orderly Process
- Continuous Oversight
- Subject Matter Expertise
- Learning from Success and Failure
1. Strategic Alignment
Every client has strategic goals, and the projects that we manage for them advance those goals.
Project management is important to strategic alignment because:
- It ensures there’s rigor in architecting projects properly so that they fit well within the broader context of our client’s strategic frameworks. In identifying a solid business case, and being
methodical about calculating ROI, project management is important because it can help to
ensure the right thing is delivered, that’s going to deliver real value.
- A project manager will ensure that the project is part of any realignment that must be
undertaken as the result of new assumed risks.
- Project management ensures that projects do not veer off course or fail to adapt to the
- Project management saves money by ensuring that time and resources are used to best
advantage, thus avoiding strategic planning mistakes that are expensive and unnecessary.
Good project management ensures that the goals of projects strictly align with the strategic
goals of the business, saving you time, money and valuable resources.
Project management is important because it brings leadership and direction to projects.
- Without project management, a team can be like a ship without a rudder, moving but without
direction, control or purpose. Leadership allows and enables a team to do their best work.
- Project management provides leadership and vision. It provides motivation by removing
roadblocks, and coaching and inspiring the team to do their best work.
- Project managers serve the team but also ensure clear lines of accountability. With a project
manager in place, there’s no confusion about who’s in charge of a project.
- Project managers enforce process. They keep everyone on the team in line because,
ultimately, they carry responsibility for whether the project fails or succeeds.
3. Clear Focus & Objectives
Project management is important because it ensures there’s a proper plan for executing on
- When project management is left to the team to work out by themselves, you’ll find teams
work without proper briefs. Projects lack focus, can have vague or nebulous objectives, and
leave the team not quite sure what they’re supposed to be doing.
- As project managers, we position ourselves to prevent such a situation. We drive the timely
accomplishment of the project by breaking it up into tasks for our teams. Oftentimes, the
foresight to take such an approach is what differentiates good project management from
- Efficient management and the breaking-up of tasks into smaller chunks of work enables
teams to remain focused on clear objectives and gear their effort towards achieving the
ultimate goal through the completion of smaller steps.
- Often a project’s goals have to change in line with a materializing risk. Project managers
quickly identify risks and their threat to the focus and objectives of a given project, saving
time and money.
Without dedicated oversight and management, a project could easily falter. Good project
management (and a good project manager) is what enables the team to focus (and, when
necessary, refocus) on their objectives.
4. Realistic Project Planning
Project management is important because it ensures proper expectations are set around what
can be delivered, by when, and for how much.
- Without proper project management, budget estimates and project delivery timelines can be
set that are over-ambitious or lacking in analogous estimating insight from similar projects.
Ultimately this means without good project management, projects get delivered late, and
- Effective project managers should be able to negotiate reasonable and achievable deadlines
and milestones across stakeholders, teams, and management. Too often, the urgency
placed on delivery compromises the necessary steps, and ultimately, the quality of the
- We all know that most tasks will take longer than initially anticipated. A good project
manager is able to analyze and balance the available resources with the required timeline,
and develop a realistic schedule.
- Project managers provide a crucial objective perspective. Project management really
matters when scheduling because it brings objectivity to the planning.
A good project manager creates a clear process, with achievable deadlines, that enables
everyone within the project team to work within reasonable bounds, and not unreasonable
5. Quality Control
Projects management is important because it ensures that the quality of the deliverable
consistently hits the mark.
- Projects managers ensure that the enormous pressure on a project does not lessen the
quality of the work being performed – or the quality of the final deliverable. Un-managed
pressure on a project results in tasks that are underestimated, schedules that are tightened,
and a process that is rushed. The result is bad quality output.
- Dedicated project management ensures that not only does a project have the time and
resources to deliver, but also that the output is quality tested at every stage.
- Good project management demands gated phases where teams can assess the output for
quality, applicability, and ROI.
Project management is of key importance to Quality Control because it allows for a staggered
and phased process, creating time for teams to examine and test their outputs at every step
along the way.
6. Risk Management
Project management is important because it ensures risks are properly managed and mitigated
against to avoid becoming issues.
- Risk management is critical to project success. The temptation is to sweep them under the
carpet, never talk about them to the client and hope for the best. Having a robust process
around the identification, management and mitigation of risk is what helps prevent risks from
- Good project management practices require project managers to carefully analyze all
potential risks to the project, quantify them, develop a mitigation plan against them, and a
contingency plan should any of them materialize. Naturally, risks should be prioritized
according to the likelihood of them occurring, and appropriate responses are allocated per
risk. Good project management matters in this regard, because projects never go to plan,
and how we deal with change and adapt our response is a key to delivering projects
7. Orderly Process
Project management is important because it ensures the right people do the right things, at the
right time. It ensures proper project process is followed throughout the project lifecycle.
- Project management makes sure the team knows who’s doing what, when, and how.
- Project managers ensure that the team responds proactively and not reactively. Reactivity,
as opposed to proactivity, can often cause projects to go into survival mode. This is a when
teams fracture and tasks duplicate, causing inefficiency and frustration in the team.
- Project management promotes proper planning and process, helping to clarify roles,
streamline processes and inputs, anticipate risks, and create the checks and balances to
ensure the project is continually aligned with the overall strategy.
8. Continuous Oversight
Project management is important because it ensures a project’s progress is tracked and
- Project managers implement status reporting. Status reporting might sound boring and
unnecessary. If everything’s going to plan, it can just feel like documentation for
documentation’s sake. But continuous project oversight ensures that a project is tracking
properly against the original plan, and is critical to ensuring that a project stays on track.
- The earlier you’re able to spot project deviation, the easier it is to course correct. When
proper oversight and project reporting is in place, it makes it easy to see when a project is
beginning to deviate from its intended course.
Good project managers will regularly generate easily digestible progress or status reports that
enable stakeholders to track the project. Typically these status reports will provide insights into
the work that was completed and planned, the hours utilized and how they track against those
planned, how the project is tracking against milestones, risks, assumptions, issues and dependencies and any outputs of the project as it proceeds.
This data is invaluable not only for
tracking progress but helps clients gain the trust of other stakeholders in their organization,
giving them easy oversight of a project’s progress.
9. Subject Matter Expertise
Project managers are experts in their field. We send only the best, most experienced project
managers to our clients to ensure that each project is managed as efficiently as possible.
Project management is important because someone needs to be able to ascertain the
performance level of each team member.
- Project managers will know a little about a lot of aspects of delivering the projects they
manage. Every project manager we use specializes in a certain field, and is experienced at
managing teams in that industry. They’ll know everything about the work that their teams
execute; the platforms and systems they use, and the possibilities and limitations, and the
kinds of issues that typically occur.
- Subject matter expertise means our project managers can have intelligent and informed
conversations with clients, teams, stakeholders and suppliers. The are well equipped to be
the hub of communication on a project, ensuring that nothing is forgotten or overlooked as
the project flows between different teams and phases of work.
Without subject matter expertise through project management, a project often becomes
unbalanced. The creatives ignore the limitations of technology or the developers forget the
creative vision of the project. Project management keeps the team focussed on the overarching
vision and brings everyone together, facilitating the right compromises to make the project a
10. Learning from Success and Failure
Project management is important because it learns from the successes and failures of the past.
- Project management can break bad habits and when you’re delivering projects, it’s
important to not make the same mistakes twice. Project managers use retrospectives or
post-project reviews to consider what went well, what didn’t go so well and what should be
done differently for the next project.
- Project manager produce valuable documentation that becomes a record of “do’s and
don’t’s” going forward, enabling the organization to learn from failures and success.
Without reflection and learning, teams will often keep making the same mistakes time and time
again. The retrospectives created by project managers are great documents to use at a project
kickoff meeting to remind the team about failures such as underestimating projects, and
successes such as the benefits of a solid process or the importance of keeping time sheet
reporting up to date.
So why is project management important? Without it, teams and clients are exposed to chaotic
management, unclear objectives, a lack of resources, unrealistic planning, high risk, poor quality
deliverables, projects going over budget and delivered late.
Great project management matters because it delivers success. Project management creates
and enables happy, motivated teams who know their work matters and do their best work. A
team that is enabled by great project management alway delivers the right stuff – stuff that is
correct, gives a real return on investment and makes happy clients.