Another year for project managers has come and gone. And while this is the time for all the usual year-end activities (budgets, status reports, etc.), it's also a good opportunity to look toward the future.
To project managers around the world, I wish you health and prosperity. I also thought I would share a few other dreams I would like to see come true in the New Year:
1. Talking project plans. From GPS systems to smartphones, just about every device offers a verbal communications mode nowadays. The same technology should be applied to project plans. They could alert you to urgent issues: "Your resources are overloaded" or "You need to add more tasks." A talking project plan could even present an entire status report without you speaking a word. Think how much fun your meetings would be when the project plan says, "Just go home because your project will never make its projected end date."
2. Project issues that solve themselves. Project managers know that early detection of project issues is the key to staying on schedule and budget. We hold resolution meetings. We collaborate with leadership to craft brilliant solutions. Yet every so often, it would be great for issues to just solve themselves. For example, say your project is over budget. Then suddenly you get an e-mail from your project sponsor that grants extra funding due to your company's outstanding performance this year. A project manager can dream, right?
3. Resources ready, willing and able to jump into the action. We spend a considerable amount of time identifying resources and negotiating for their availability on a project. And still, we see our schedules fall apart when they're pulled away by other demands. Just once I'd like to have a project where everyone is fully dedicated, with no other distractions to threaten the schedule. It would make me very happy to hear a project team member turn down a meeting with the company president to work on my project.
4. No change requests. During the early phases of a project, we work to create the most accurate set of requirements possible. We consider it all — the many functional needs and the hidden complexities. After all that work, wouldn't it be nice if everything remained precisely the same throughout the life cycle of the project? Think of the time you could save by canceling those painful weekly change-request meetings.
5. Give back all contingency funding in the project. We typically reserve contingency funding to guard against unforeseen events. Imagine the sheer joy of having no project risks that required budget or schedule relief. Just think of the satisfaction of telling your project leadership "We have no weather, people, software, hardware or network risks, so we are returning all contingency funds!"
What's your project management wish for 2013?