Reinventing the Wheel


    As a project manager, you probably find yourself doing repetitive tasks that frustrate you. You may also see yourself or others on the team making the same mistakes made on previous projects. Unfortunately, most firms do not offer strong enough project management standard operating procedures. In fact, many firms don’t offer any project management structure or processes. What this means for you is opportunity.

    I recently did a research study on a firm and one of the top issues was the lack of project management processes and standards. I was not surprised at that, but I was struck by the expectation of everybody that someone else needed to develop the program. I thought to myself, “Who better to do this than you?”

    If you are in the project management trenches every day, you have the best perspective on what needs to change in order to make your job easier and more efficient. If you would like the opportunity to be a hero at your firm, take the initiative and lead the effort to create processes, procedures, and standards to streamline project management.

    I suggest getting approval from management and then assembling a committee that can bring additional perspective to the process. Also, ask management if there are any recent client studies you can review to get a sense of what clients are saying about your project quality. If there is no data, conduct your own study or ask management to hire a third party to conduct one. As part of this process, assemble a “lessons learned” communication system that reviews projects at completion and compiles best practices and things to avoid in the future.

    If your firm is busy like many others, this task is daunting. However, the importance of it is critical. Most project managers hit the reset button at the end of a project and start the next one over from scratch. This mentality leads to never-ending frustration and a constant state of “reinventing the wheel.”

    Furthermore, inefficiencies in the company eat up profits that otherwise could be used to give raises and bonuses and provide better benefits. If you can pull this off, it will offer you tremendous credibility and respect in the organization. And in the spirit of this column, it will engineer your future with a new and much more lucrative outcome.

    Chad Clinehens, P.E., is Zweig Group’s executive vice president. Contact him at