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Make or Buy a Project Management Life Cycle

June 25 2007

Whether to make or buy your Project Management Life Cycle

If you’re involved with managing projects and you want to improve your success rate, then you’ll need to implement some form of Project Management Life Cycle. A life cycle gives you a “roadmap” for delivering projects, providing your team with an element of structure, in a frequently chaotic and stressful work environment.

So you need to implement some form of project management life cycle for delivering successful projects, but should you…

Make or Buy Your Project Management Life Cycle?

Before we help you find an answer to this question, let’s define what a “project management life cycle” is. A methodology is a pre-defined set of steps that describe how a project should be managed, from end-to-end. It sets out what needs to be done, by whom, when and how. It also describes how time, cost, quality, change, risks and issues should be managed to ensure that the project delivers on time and under budget.

It gives you a complete delivery roadmap so that you can manage projects in the same way every time, delivering projects faster and more efficiently than before.

So should you create this roadmap (or “project management life cycle”) from scratch, or should you buy it off the shelf? Here are the steps you need to take to make that decision:

Step 1: Analyze your Environment

How successful are projects in your Company? Which projects fail and which succeed? Why are project late? Which problems commonly occur? Do all teams use the same project processes? Which processes work efficiently and which need improvement?

By answering these questions, you can identify the common problems in your project environment and list the areas that need to be improved.

Step 2: Define your Requirements

After you’ve identified the problem areas and the processes that need to be improved, you’re ready to define your requirements for a project management life cycle.

Define exactly what it is that you want from your methodology. Which processes do you require, and at which level of depth. For instance, do you need detailed processes to help you plan projects, or do you want procedures for contracting and managing suppliers.

Document your requirements in as much depth as possible and mark them as either mandatory or optional.

Step 3: List the solutions

Great, so you know exactly what it is that you want from a project management life cycle.  You now have 3 options ahead of you:

a) Create a new methodology from scratch.

If you have in-house project experts with the time available to create a new detailed methodology, then this is a good option for you. They will need to run workshops to defined the overall project life cycle, reference best practices and standards when documenting the processes and implement training courses to roll out your new methodology for your organization.

It’s a huge amount of work and will take considerable time, but it may be worth it.

b) Buy a new methodology off the shelf.

These days you can buy, download and implement a project methodology in minutes. The advantage is that it saves you months of work and energy rather than having to create one from scratch. The disadvantage is that it may not perfectly fit your project environment and you will need to train all of your staff in the new processes and procedures included.

This option is best for smaller companies running smaller projects, as they usually don’t have the time to create a methodology from scratch and they need to improve their project delivery rate quickly, as their project success directly affects their company profitability.

C) Buy and customize a methodology.

If you already have some project processes that work for you, but you simply want to improve certain areas of your project environment, then the best option is to buy a customizable methodology, upload your existing processes and quickly create a new customized project roadmap that perfectly fits your environment. MPMM allows you to do this.

You will be able to immediately adopt new processes that are based on worldwide project management life cycles standards, while still using your existing processes that work well for your currently. It usually takes 1-2 weeks to merge your existing processes with the methodology your purchase, saving you months of hard effort and giving you a customized methodology which is a perfect fit for your environment.

Step 4: Rank the options

Once you’ve identified each of the potential options available, you will want to rank them in terms of their:

  • Total cost and effort required
  • Ability to meet your requirements set
  • Handling of different project sizes.

Step 5: Make your decision

Based on the amount of time, expertise and budget you have available, you should now be able to make a clear decision as to whether you should make from scratch, buy & implement or buy & customize a project management life cycle for your project environment.

And just one further tip: If you decide to “buy” a methodology, then make sure that it:

  • Is completely customizable.
  • Is based on worldwide standards
  • Handles all types and sizes of projects
  • Can quickly and easily be implemented
  • Is simple to follow and adds real value to your projects.

So that’s it. You can follow these 5 steps to make your decision on whether to make or buy a project management life cycle, to improve your success in delivering projects.

Looking for customizable project management templates that you can use to deliver successful projects? Download a free trail of Online Project Management.