Can project management be simplified, especially for small-simple projects?

Subscribe TodayA common question that comes to mind is the following: Can project management be simplified, especially for small-simple projects? One of the reasons we hear this type of comments is because, often enough, those asking the question are introduced to project management via certification courses. Their project management training can be a course to help them prepare for an exam that they will never take nor do they need.

Project Management Training

Another comment we hear in project management training (especially from those studying the PMBOK Guide) is that there is too much information. Can anyone be surprised with this comment with the guide is close to 800 pages? Even a summary can still be huge.

One more common comment, coming from those who manage small-simple projects (These are day-to-day business projects, such as an event, a marketing strategy, or a training program) is: our projects are simple, we do not need this level of complexity.

Maybe so.

The Consequences for Small-Simple Projects

Those type of courses, push people away from project management since they are often designed for professionals who want the PMP, project management professional certification. In SUKAD, we simplify those courses and focus on the application of the concepts, but still, the PMBOK Guide is not designed as a methodology or a practical guide for small-simple projects.

Can Project Management be Simplified?

Can project management be simplified? Absolutely!

However, keep in mind we are using the words simplified, not simple!

For example, when we share our methodology for small-simple projects, like the image below. The initial reaction is that there are too many steps.

The Customizable and Adaptable Methodology for Managing Projects™ (CAMMP™); an approach that can answer this question: can project management be simplified?Guys,

(1) Let us be honest, we are talking about managing a project, not a task. A project with a few resources and that could take weeks. Such a project that could possibly cost thousands or millions depending on whatever currency you use. A project is not going to dinner with a couple of friends.

(2) There are steps to help us ensure success and stage gates that are necessary for proper governance and control. However, these steps could be simplified accomplished quickly on the micro or small-simple projects. They could also take months on large-complex projects.

Real Life Scenario

We are working on a program at this time. This program consists of similar projects. We follow The SUKAD Way™ Model, CAMMP™ (The Customizable and Adaptable Methodology for Managing Projects™). We are documenting these projects as case studies and will publish later (available for clients only at this time).

What we want to say here is the following. On the micro-projects that are part of the program, each of the first five stages in the image above, require hours to complete. That is all. I say hours as in less than a day or half-day. The Decisions at the stage gates might require more time than doing the work. The major effort is in the delivery phase. To share some numbers; more than 90% of the effort is in the Delivery Phase.

Why do we need the early stages?

If most of the effort is in the Delivery Phase, in particular, the implementation stage, then why do we need the first two phases and their five stages? Here is a quick justification:

  • We need them to ensure project success.
  • The concept stage is required to ensure we are working on the right project.
  • We need the feasibility to verify that we have the resources, capabilities, market and other considerations to deliver a workable product and successful project.
  • The requirements stage is to ensure that the team understands the stakeholders’ needs, expectations, and requirements. Then ensure their alignment on the agreed scope.
  • The strategy stage is where we define the project management magic.
  • Finally, the definition stage is for the team to have the proper detailed plan in term of scope, cost, risks, etc.

The above bullets are for the project life cycle of small-simple projects, that is not simple but can be readily simplified.

How about medium to large projects?

Can project management be simplified of medium to large projects? As project get large in size, they tend to become more complex. However, the project might become more complex but project management can still be simplified.

The image below shows the same approach for medium-moderate complexity projects. The only difference between small-simple and medium-moderate projects is the level of effort in term of people, duration, cost, etc. So projects can be complex but we can still simplify project management, to the extent possible.The SUKAD Way™ Model, CAMMP™ (The Customizable and Adaptable Methodology for Managing Projects™)

Closing Comments

So, to answer the question: can project management be simplified? Absolutely! But keep in mind, simplified not simple. Maybe in simple is possible on simple projects but we have to be careful to define are these projects or tasks.

The Core Concept to Remember is: Good Project Management is Adaptive. Adaptive in our vocabulary means tailored to fit the project type and classification. Adaptive in our dictionary is NOT Agile. Sure Agile or agility should be part of any effort. However, we must realize that agility is an approach not a project management methodology. This is why we consider CAMMP™ as an adaptive methodology for managing projects.

To close, if you are a senior manager or executive, or you are in Learning & Development, read the next statements carefully. Before you send your staff/teams to project management training, make sure you select the right training. We know the market is cluttered with PMP training but search well. Not everyone needs the PMP and your organizations will NOT benefit from PMP or PMBOK Guide training if your people only manage small or simple projects.

How many training providers just joined our hate list?

The PM Coach, Mounir Ajam