A project manager is asked to manage a project that is supposed to improve a software. He plays around with the software and also thinks that there is room for improvement but asks for data that supports the need to improve. He also wants to know what the business impact of an improvement would be. What are the KPIs, the Key Performance Indicators, that show that the project is successful? Unfortunately, the customer does not have any data whatsoever, there is just a “feeling” that something is wrong. Also, as he does not really know what is wrong, no business value can be attached to the project.
The project manager insists that a baseline is needed but the customer replies that he was not too happy about having a project manager involved in the first place since that conversation proves that project management increases complexity and adds unnecessary steps to the project. Sounds weird? No, that’s a true story. And I have experienced this more than once. And to be completely honest, I have experienced it on both sides of the fence: As a product manager, I was often annoyed by the additional questions asked by developers and project managers, and as a developer or project manager, I have seen product managers being annoyed when I asked those questions. In fact, starting a project without clearly defined goals and KPIs is like flying without a precise destination and without instruments that let you know where you are above the clouds. Continue reading