Combining creative and analytical skills helps NGOs' project performance!
NGO (Non-Government Organization) and NPO (Non-Profit Organization) Founders take pride in creating organizations that address various social justice issues, such as establishing green environment, sourcing micro financing for small businesses, or providing educational opportunities for girl-children. Their energy, skill, and creativity works in government, local agencies, and grassroots movements to make the dream a reality. But energy and passion needs to be balanced with rigorous planning, organization, and management. This is where a Project Management skill set can step in.
Here are the top 3 reasons why your NPO organizations should care about Project Management.
#1 - You only get one chance to make a good first impression
Make it count!
In today’s world, there are several non-profit organization options out there for almost every charitable goal imaginable. With tool sets like Charity Navigator, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, and GreatNonprofits.org at their disposal, the average donator is much more discerning with who they give their money to. Keeping in mind that approximately 39% of (IT) projects fail, it is in the best interest of any non-profit organization to limit the possibility of project failure and ensure the people who provide funding maintain confidence in the organization’s ability to deliver on their promises.
Since poor project management process is one of the main reasons projects fail, it makes sense to invest in project management oversight to mitigate this issue before it derails your project and undermines the confidence of your donors and stakeholders.
#2 - Money does not grow on trees
Can’t Grow a Money Tree - Matt Harris - CC BY-NC
Closely related to #1, we have to remember that money is finite and this is especially true in the non-profit sector. For IT projects, the average cost overrun is 43% and a whopping 71% of projects come in over budget (est. waste in the US alone: $55 billion per year). PM processes help to mitigate these issues by a strong focus on Project Planning, managing scope creep, tracking and measuring progress, and keeping stakeholders engaged and informed throughout delivery. This ensures that *what* needs to get done is directly tied to *how* are we going to get there: PM oversight can help provide the tactical approach to achieve the NGO's strategic objectives.
#3 - Haste Makes Waste
According to a KPMG Global survey, short-term projects (<1 year) are more likely to fail than those of longer durations. While one’s intuition might be that a short-term project is easy and should not be additionally burdened with administrative and management overhead (or costs!); it is these projects that are at most risk. When we rush projects or skimp on delivery methodology, we increase the risk of failure. Projects - especially shorter ones - benefit from good planning, well-defined requirements, schedule management, and cost control. In the non-profit world, there is little margin for waste: especially if you are to remain appealing to your donor base. From this perspective, Project Management oversight is a smart investment.
While Project Management is perceived as a lot of forms, paperwork, and administrative burden, in reality, it can provide invaluable returns for an NGO (Non-Profit Organization). By increasing the chance that a project delivers on-time, on-budget, and actually meets the needs and expectations of the organization's stakeholders, this oversight can help ensure a steady donor stream, maintain public confidence, and support continued commitment to an Organization’s strategic objectives and goals.
What other benefits have you noticed (as a PM or as an NGO) Project Management provides to the Non-Profit sector? What kinds of challenges does one face in the Non-Profit world that you would never see in private or public sector industries? Chime in the comments section below!