Project Management

Understanding 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 [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

Like many of the articles I gear toward new project managers, what I am going to discuss also applies to experienced PMs who find themselves managing projects for a new business area or of a different type. As far as these concepts go, they would still class as “new.”

It’s become increasingly understood in recent years that understanding the business purpose behind a project—why it’s being done—is important. Many people entering the profession now just accept that as part of what project management is, not realizing that it is a relatively new development for many PMs and organizations. But for most, that purpose or context consists only of reviewing some information in the business case and having a conversation with the sponsor and/or customer.

I don’t think that’s enough. I think that a new project manager working on an initiative for a business area for the first time should seek to understand the environment they are supporting in more detail. It doesn’t matter if the project is to deliver something for an internal department, or whether they are developing a customer-facing product or service; the more the PM understands about how that solution will be used and how the business benefits, the better.

Let’s use a new product as an example, but understand that the concept applies to any project type.

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"Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform."

- Mark Twain