Many project managers are under pressure to estimate projects accurately without being given the time to gather the information required for an accurate estimate. Conversely they are also expected to meet deadlines that were imposed by market forces, such as producing a new product before the competition, which bears no relevance to the amount of time/resources actually required or available.
These sorts of challenging situations are bound to lead to a disappointing outcome to the project. The problem, and it is not the project manager’s alone, is that organisations do not always follow 3 basic project management principles:
Use the knowledge learned from earlier projects about how accurate estimates were compared to the actual time and resources used. Use these examples to highlight that accurate estimates can only be provided once a full evaluation of the project has been made by experienced members of the project team.
Defining what is required in the project is a critical step that begins with a scope statement. This should contain enough detail to specify what the purpose of the project is and what work will be required to complete the project. It will also serve as a basis for managing expectations of the project.
We have probably all been on one of those project management courses aimed at enabling us to define, estimate, plan and deliver projects more successfully. You may have attended PRINCE2 or PMP Training but it is implementing the processes and methods learned on such courses in our real project environments that will result in project success.
So when you are being asked to take shortcuts in any area of a project try and remember the basics of good project management. Collaborate with the project sponsor to ensure the project is clearly defined, get expert estimates, where possible, and learn from previous projects then implement your project management processes rigorously. These basics will lay a strong foundation for building a successful project.