The accelerated rate of competition and technological development is increasing the pressure on business organisations to improve their project management skills, processes and tools in order to achieve their project objectives successfully.

Effective project management is a critical success factor for the continued competitiveness and growth of an organisation. Investment in new projects has become more important an issue than it has ever been before. In the current economic climate, where budget overruns in both the public and the private sector, even if small, can kill a project if not an entire organisation, the whole process of managing a project well through its entire lifecycle has become even more crucial than ever before. Work practices are also gradually changing in such a way as to make work more project-based than it is of a routine type.

Notwithstanding this, many projects are still badly managed, with the result being inefficiencies that are conducive to avoidable losses of both time and money. This is so because of bad planning, and chaotic execution and control processes. Even though many project managers do everything by the book, the several project management models assume a predictable and stable future that does not exist in the real world.  Additionally, these models tend to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach that ends up fitting no project category.  In reality, the real world is full of uncertainty and change and most projects differ significantly from one another.

A prerequisite to effective project management is having a clear project direction, which entails knowing the end deliverables clearly, and strategy that will achieve the aims of the project together with an implementation plan that details tasks, dependencies and timelines.  Determining a clear project strategy roadmap provides guidelines on how the implementation plan should be devised, what deliverables will result and what needs to be do done to make sure that the deliverables are made available in time and within the budget.  The aim is to obtain the highest return on the project and if the project is being undertaken in an organisational context, to strengthen the organisation’s competitive advantage.

Successful projects also require careful project design.  A good project design should consider the following key factors:

  • Projects are relevant to beneficiaries
  • Detailed plans and studies ensure that critical factors are not overlooked
  • Assessing the various types of risk ensure a good risk mitigation response strategy
  • Putting together a competent project team with the necessary skill set will minimise the risk of low-quality outcomes and project time and budget overruns.

The appraisal process involves weighing all the revenues, costs, risks and uncertainties before committing to proceed with a project.  The appraisal examines whether the feasibility and merits of the project comply with the goals and the strategic priorities of an organisation.  The appraisal is mainly a decision-making tool.  It is used to determine if a project meets its objectives, and reviews in detail the economic, financial, environmental, technical and social aspects.  It is a tool that organisations use in order to assess if it would be wise to commit the resources that a project needs to take off to the project itself.  A project appraisal is also used to compare between various project alternatives and determine which project is most suited to a specific set of circumstances.

There are various ways in which project appraisals can be undertaken.  Those most commonly in use are the financial and economic appraisals.  The financial appraisal involves a review of the future revenues of the project and the costs that will be generated in the process less any residual values at the end of the project appraisal period. This can also take the time value of money into account and may be undertaken either on a cashflow basis or on an accruals basis.  Economic appraisal, on the other hand, focuses on the total benefits generated by the project (including social and non-monetary benefits) and the total project costs (including social and non-monetary costs). Non-monetary costs and benefits can also be quantified.

Once a project has been undertaken and completed, it is important to conduct a review of the actual performance and to compare it to what had been planned.  Evaluating the results of a project is an important process since it is a means of investigation that provides guidance for the future.

At Equinox we provide various project management services including project strategy consultancy, design, appraisal and evaluation for a wide range of industries.  Our services create value to our clients through the vast knowledge and expertise that has been accumulated over the years within the project management field.

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