Project Management

Do You Know Your Project's 'Why'?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

I received an email recently from someone who is a new project manager working in an IT department. Their first project is a rollout of an upgraded software image to a series of user desktops. They have been given a project charter and the sponsor has made himself available to this PM. Their question for me was simple: “It’s a simple project and everyone knows what’s happening. Can I ignore all the ‘why’ questions?” The specific questions the PM was thinking about were why the project is being done, why now, why this particular desktop image, etc.

On the face of it, this is the type of project where the output of the project is very close to being the same thing as the business outcome that’s trying to be achieved—an updated modernized set of software for users so that they can be more productive. So, some would argue there’s no need for the PM to have a detailed understanding of why the project is being done because it’s self-evident. But is that really the case?

For example, is there a reason why the rollout is happening now? You might expect that this would be the kind of project that may have been delayed as a result of the pandemic; efforts might be better applied to more important projects. But if some of the software in the current image is becoming unsupported, that might change things. Or if there is a …

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