Efficiency and Effectiveness in Project Management

Posted: February 23, 2009 in Project Management
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Are you managing your project efficiently, effectively, or both? Are you Doing Things Right, Doing Right Things, or doing both? What a project manager is doing throughout the entire lifecycle of his project is actually increasing efficiency and effectiveness.

Going back to the ABC’s of management, management is defined as planning, organizing, leading, and controlling resources (human and other resources) to achieve organizational goals. This definition implies both increasing efficiency and effectiveness.

Efficiency measures how well and productively a manger uses his resources to achieve goals. Project management places heavy focus on how to acquire the right project team to perform project tasks and to close project successfully within the agreed constraints. For example, in Human Resource Planning the project manager proactively boosts efficiency by deciding on the Organizational Structure and Roles and Responsibilities to complete project tasks, then, when he later acquires project team, he obtains the right human resources according to the Roles and Responsibilities, and he decides on any training needs they may require to complete their tasks. Project Manager should keep an eye on the Resource Availability; are resources Overallocated? Is the Resource Usage curve smooth? Project Manager uses Resource Leveling as a tool to increase efficiency by eliminating Overallocation of resources and keeping almost constant or smooth use of resources throughout the span of the project lifecycle. When it comes to the Monitoring & Controlling phase the project manager tries to increase efficiency by resolving conflicts that may arise within project team, and by reviewing his team’s performance so as to enhance the overall performance of the project.

On the other hand, Effectiveness measures the appropriateness of the goals that an organization is pursuing and the degree of achieving these goals. Again, this is a core measure in Project Management since it is all about applying knowledge and tools and techniques to achieve project goals. Building and measuring effectiveness in a project starts when the scope is defined during Planning phase (Scope Management Plan, Scope Statement, and the Work Breakdown Structure-WBS). Scope is built around goals and end-deliverables the customer or sponsor needs. A solid Scope Change procedure is compiled during the Scope Planning process. Through this procedure scope of project is kept under control throughout the entire lifecycle. At the end of each phase, and before moving to the next phase, the PM verifies the deliverables of the phase against the scope baseline to check whether the agreed upon scope is being met and to verify that the project in total is still appropriate and in line with the overall strategies of the company or the customer. As a result of this continuous control over scope corrective and preventive actions are taken to keep the project focused on the original plan or to update the plan itself to cope with the ultimate goals pursued by the customer or the sponsor.

If you think of efficiency and effectiveness this way you will find that these two measures are pivotal in project management profession. Not only do they apply to the cases mentioned above, but also to all project baselines-Scope, Cost, Time, Quality, Human Resources, and Risk.

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