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So, What is End-to-End Project Management?
This is a question we have heard for many years. Many people do not seem to understand that there is a difference between doing just certain things, and doing end-to-end (E2E) project management. The way we view E2E is that it involves the change management process where you also take care of the changes that are happening to people, processes or technology and ensure communication and planning is completed around it. It involves all aspects that we are going to talk about here, not just serving as a technical lead or implementation lead. It starts at the very beginning and does not end until the customer acceptance is signed off, the funding is closed, and the project is officially completed.
You manage the entire project with E2E including resources, budget, forecasting, reporting, schedule and timeline, capital versus expense, change management, risk management, project management, communication management…EVERYTHING! Throughout my career I have met very few project managers that have done total E2E project management. Many times, they are responsible to manage the schedule, including all the tasks, and the dates to which the activity should be completed by. Rarely, however, have I met a PM that has also taken care of the budget and forecasting, had a basic understanding of capital versus expense for internal labor capitalization, knew anything more than the basics about risk management or change management, and was never involved in any communication management. If you cannot do these, you are not doing E2E project management.
Change management is one of the big pieces that is normally left out. What many do not understand is that without change management you can very easily make a successful project a failure. Change management covers the change that is occurring from a technological standpoint, a person standpoint, and even a workflow standpoint. If we were to relate this to the building of a house example it would be the same as you building a house and not communicating where the front door is. Change management is communication, and that communication should begin as early as the discovery stage. If you wait until the end of the project the communication regarding the change and any training needed for the personnel may not be able to be completed in the timeline required.
As I sit here thinking about change management, I recall several projects that were going to impact the branches and stores of a company I worked for. No communication about the change had ever been completed to the stores and branches making the rollout and deployment of this application unsuccessful because not only were the personnel not ready for it or aware of it, they had no training on how their workflow and processes were changing. With just a little bit of thought, and a little bit of effort, this one project could have yielded a lot of return on the investment.
Risk management is also an area that is often neglected. I cannot tell you how many PMs I have spoken with that when asked a very simple question, which comes first a risk or an issue, they often reply with an issue. A lot of money can be wasted with the simple neglect of risk management. Depending on the organization, your work in risk management may or may not be a priority. As a PM, I would hope that you can help the organization understand how risk management can save them money, and help to ensure the successful completion of a project.
Financial management is also a big part of E2E project management. Monitoring the budget and keeping an eye on the costs versus the remaining work should be one of your main concerns. The people and the organization that trusted you to lead their project count on you to keep a watchful eye to make sure that the project does not go over budget. If you are not watching it…then who is? Even if another area is watching the budget, make sure you stay informed so you can alert your management if you are burning at a higher rate than you are producing.
Even with E2E project management a PM needs to understand what lines can be crossed and when they can be crossed. Remember, even with a PMLC, E2E is something that not every PM has done and it can take time, which leads to experience, to fully understand E2E project management.
- E2E project management takes time to learn. You should not expect yourself to be able to do it all overnight.
- Do not forget about all the areas that are normally forgotten or only thought of after the fact. They should always be in the forefront of your thoughts.
What can i do if i DO NOT own the entire project?
In many organizations, the project manager is not involved in managing all aspects of the project. In one organization I have worked with, any project that had infrastructure involved meant that the infrastructure team had their separate project, with their own project manager; the budget was handled outside of the project; and to complicate matters even more, often the project manager is not trained in project management. So, what is a project manager to do? Simple:
- Collaborate with other project managers that may be sub-projects of yours.
- Make sure the dependencies are identified between the primary project and any sub-projects.
- Don’t be afraid of adding milestones in your project schedule to track to the sub-projects.
- Just because you don’t own it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know what is going on.
Tell me your thoughts in the comments and let’s open a dialog. I would be excited to hear other opinions on this topic.
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Over 20 years project management experience with a passion for helping organizations grow their PMO, their project managers, and their teams. My passion has taken me to the pursuit of a Doctor of Education, as I enjoy seeing the proverbial light bulb come on. I am a believer in continuous growth and improvement, and believe that an organizations culture and environment is what drives the growth of PMOs and all areas, and not the other way around.