Project management, a risky business
Adrian Pagdin, AJP Consulting
Monday, 4th August 2003
It seems that barely a month goes by without the latest service embracing project management. Traditional service providers, construction, oil and pharmaceutical companies, have used project management for decades.

I met someone a few years ago who informed me he was an utilities project manager; in effect what he did was to ensure that the bins were emptied at the prescribed intervals.

When I discuss the management of hotel projects (hotel openings, renovation, refurbishment) most hotel managers will allow a wry smile and admit to having enjoyed the experience but not enjoyed the stress. The excitement comes from being part of a radical change process, the stress comes from the added responsibility, the drains on time and the last minute decisions that must be taken on the spot.

So what is project management and can it really help us in the hospitality industry? Well it is certainly not the panacea to all hotel woes, but as a discipline it has a lot to offer the hotelier who is embracing change. The Association of Project Managers (APM) suggests that ‘project management is the management of stakeholder expectations' and the difference between project management and operational management is the definition of; ‘a need (to change), start and end dates, a budget and a required quality element'. Project management provides and manages movement (change), operational management maintains momentum.

The project manager must justify the investment of time and resource in advance of implementation, for example before a project is undertaken there must be clear justification that the results of the project will bring about a worthwhile product or service. The project manager invests time in planning to maximise the use of resources, minimise slack and wasted time, and to plan contingency and mitigation to reduce risk.

Project management is designed to remove or reduce the risks present in every project to a manageable level and thus avoid the crises that consume time and resource. By understanding the project aims, planning and scheduling resource in advance of the project start the project manager allocates time and occasion to deal effectively with issues that happen off plan. By monitoring and controlling progress against a predefined plan the project manager increases the likelihood of the project being delivered on time, within budget and to the pre-defined quality criteria.

God forbid that senior hotel managers rush to proclaim themselves project managers but some serious thought about justification and planning would avoid the all too familiar ‘opening delayed' communications.
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