Project Management Problem Solving

Project Management Problem Solving by Walter McIntyre

I hear the following a lot.  “He (or she) is a good problem solver.” This is a great quality to have, but it is less than half the needed skill.  It is better to be known for preventing problems.  From both a time and cost prospective, a problem prevented is best, because solving a problem typically adds more time and money to a project, than a solid plan to avoid the problem in the first place.

In my current role I manage a project management team with a portfolio of between 40 and 50 projects.  as  Project Management Office team, we keep a list of problems we have encountered and spend a portion of our time each week developing plans to eliminate the problems from future projects.  We address everything from scope creep, to time and cost overruns, to office politics, to known performance issues with specific groups and individuals.

The result has been a decrease in project cycle times, cost and defects.  This, in turn, has increased the volume of projects the group can manage over time.  Remember that successful project management means fulfilling the following:

  • What the customer wants/needs
  • On time
  • In budget
  • Defect free
  • Safely
  • Make a profit

We view each project from a value stream point of view.  We even value stream map projects in advance, and update the map in the middle and at the end of the project. We can quickly tell what went right, and what didn’t, on every project.  Using this information, we can build a control plan for project management.

So, don’t just be a problem solver.  Be a problem eliminator.