Why is it that project management is so important to publishing?Projects are vital to every publishing organization. They are the means by which most change is implemented. Think about new and enhanced products and services, changes to workflows, systems and processes. What about rebranding, sales and marketing campaigns? Acquisitions, restructuring, strategy development and suppliers changes are all project-based activities. I could go on, but you get the picture.
What typically goes wrong when managing projects?As projects, they all have inherent risks and under the pressures of high workloads or when individuals are inexperienced in managing them, projects often fail to match expectations. Project management is meant to help! But sometimes it doesn't.
Why do you think this is the case?Over many years, traditional project management methods have been based on experience from large projects. Whilst there is still a place for some of these methods on major infrastructure developments, they can cause delay and add too much bureaucracy to smaller and medium sized projects. Add in a lack of training or experience, plus an expectation of fitting this in to your day job, and you have a recipe for disaster.
So how has project management methodology evolved to tackle these issues?Most projects now involve web-based solutions that need a more flexible approach to project management, and businesses need shorter implementation time scales. ‘Agile’ methods can be highly effective for incremental web development and can work very well.
Sounds like a great solution, are there any drawbacks?These methods are not appropriate for all projects and the conditions for the successful application of Agile methods do not always exist. There is no single project management solution that works for all projects!
So what what would you advise to those starting a project?I always recommend taking a flexible approach to project management. Review the type of project you are working on and take the best parts of different methods to suit your circumstances and business goals. This will enable you to apply a scalable, tailored approach for different types and sizes of project.
Jim Russell is a project management consultant who runs his own training and consultancy company. He has worked with a broad range of organizations within the publishing sector and continues to be a practising project manager.
Jim is co-tutor on ALPSP’s Project Management for Publishing course along with Ruth Wilson from Nature Publishing Group. The next course will run in May 2015. Further information and booking available on the ALPSP website.