Updated: Apr 28
Written by Roger Barker, Principal at Systech
In 1939, the Wizard of Oz dazzled the public with its charm, novelty, and innocence. An important theme in the film is this idea of an “All Mighty Wizard” that could help Dorothy return home to Kansas. Later in the film, we come to find that the wizard is in fact not what he seems to be and is really part of a menagerie of chaos and ingenuity. While it may seem like a stretch to equate the role of a Project Manager and the Wizard of Oz, I would argue that from the outside looking in, to those who are less familiar with the responsibilities of a PM, it may also appear to the public like a mysterious display of smoke and mirrors.
Project management is like assembling a puzzle. Initial work consists of building teams of individuals with some of the most complex, technical skill sets. The ultimate goal of project managers is to use these skillsets to create harmony — internally — and optimize the creation of business value. Information projects, specifically, provide tremendous value when executed properly.
A laissez-faire approach to managing projects leads to uncertainty, low stakeholder confidence, failed deliveries, low quality products, and budget overruns. In lieu of scrambling to figure it out as you go, a coherent process is key to completion. A thoughtful approach to the project lifestyle and associated work streams equates to business success (e.g., analysis, design, build, test) makes a huge impact on the day-to-day of an organization’s workflow. Every project type (strategic development, enhancement, migration, support, and proof of concept) can benefit from this type of governing.
So, what makes up the base components of project management, anyway? Projects can be broken into three phases: initiation, execution, and closure.
Initiation. Initiation involves confirming the value of the project to the business and receiving the go ahead to start. A high-level plan is also set to map out the project. Project risks are evaluated, and a project start date is set.
Execution. Execution starts by assessing the project scope and deliverables and determining what resources will be required to accomplish the work. The plan is further detailed and refined. The project manager is responsible for overseeing and managing project execution. They monitor timelines, associated tasks, budgets, and deliverables. They also facilitate risk management as well as scope changes. Periodically, the project manager will communicate to stakeholders and decision makers to alert them of any inconsistencies.
Closure. At project completion, stakeholder sign off is required. Project retrospectives are performed, and a project summary is generated. The project value is reviewed, monitored, and archived as reference for future endeavors.
Often, project management is not first thought of when identifying the key factors of a business’s success. Establishing the framework of these phases early on is critical to the successful completion of your project. When the reality is that every organization requires a shepherd of information to instill a clear, coherent, and structured process. Without the sort of guide, the chance of a project’s success is slim.
While it may seem counterintuitive, structure creates freedom… it liberates other team members to focus on their strengths and tasks. In many ways, a project manager is the glue that bonds the organization together, in its entirety.
Perhaps, just like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, you could say that a project manager brings every project home to Kansas.
In the coming weeks, this blog series will highlight and expand on different components of a successful project completion and deployment.
The Systech Solutions, Inc. Blog Series is designed to showcase ongoing innovations in the data and analytics space. If you have any suggestions for an upcoming article, or would like to volunteer to be interviewed, please contact Olivia Klayman at firstname.lastname@example.org.