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Posted by on Jun 29, 2012

PM Rigor – How Much is Enough?

The first principle of the Project Management Principles course is “Project Management is Scalable” which should lead us to answer the question, “How much Project Management is enough?” The level of project management rigor and the number of project deliverables increases with project size, level of risk, complexity of the solution, and often the cost of the project. A thorough review of the prevailing documentation on the subject will reveal charts, graphs, and opinions on how to scale these project variables. Generally, BIG equals more rigor. Big risk, big cost, big complexity, you get the picture. I’d like to introduce two more variables for your rigor consideration: Project Manager Maturity and Organizational Maturity.

Project Manager Maturity is the measure of the experience of the assigned project manager. We all remember our first PM assignment: difficult meetings, estranged team members, questioning stakeholders, sweaty palms. We followed the prescribed process very closely so as to create that defensible documentation and support our memory. As time and experience progress, we can reduce some of the rigor because we have greater confidence in ourselves and our past successes support our future performance. Your whole Project Management Plan isn’t written on a cocktail napkin, but “How Much is Enough” is easier to define and maintain with experience.

Organizational Maturity is the level of understanding and support the organization has in Project Management. I once heard a manager say, “Hurry up and deliver that widget and do a little of that project management while you’re at it.” Not all organizations have Project Management Maturity. Ask yourself if the organization provides and supports tools for project management. Do they listen to project managers when requesting project management tools and processes? Are software and hardware project management needs included in budget discussions? Is Project Management certification expected and honored? Is Project Management recognized and encouraged as a profession? Do project managers regularly receive promotions? Do you have Project/Program Management Offices in the organization?

The maturity question is the opposite of the BIG variables. More (BIG) risk equals more rigor. For maturity, the more mature the project manager or organization, less rigor is usually required. When determining how much is enough, include the maturity questions in the equation. You may be surprised by the analysis.

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