Under One Umbrella: The Importance of End-to-End Project Management

Filed Under Mind Mapping

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Arwen Heredia

by
April 17, 2013

Project management means something different to professionally-trained PMs than it does to the rest of us, but the practice is largely the same: projects happen, someone has to keep them on track, progress reports have to be made, tasks must be completed, and resources have to be secured and distributed. Often, this behemoth of a process is shouldered by a handful of different teams and vendors. As a result, error and miscommunication become expected, scheduling conflicts multiply, and deadlines fall through the cracks.

That’s where end-to-end (E2E) project management — a process that tasks a single team with all aspects of a project — can help.

E2E and the Project Lifecycle

In a (very small) nutshell, a project follows the path from research and planning to task management and testing, and finally project closure and handover. From a bird’s eye perspective, the goal is always to produce or implement a high-quality deliverables, whether it’s a printed asset or new training procedures. And that can require a lot of different people.

By nature, projects that require input from large or disparate teams are subject to misaligned approaches and technologies. This means you’re always running the risk of impacting the project lifecycle if needs or timelines clash. Use of different technologies can be disruptive, too — for example, communicating via different mediums, or using different document types to store information. It’s important that these variables be minimized, but if they can’t be, then it’s at least imperative that they be recognized. 

E2E project management diminishes these types of issues by reducing the number of cooks in the kitchen, so to speak. This can be particularly useful if the project in question doesn’t require a ton of reimagining to succeed. If it’s following a process that’s been established and executed before — think rolling out software updates, or putting together an eBook — limiting input can actually bolster efficiency and productivity, even if that means fewer people have to take greater responsibility.

Collaboration Management and Predictability = Agile

We’re huge proponents of collaboration here at Mindjet — it’s one of the things our software is designed for, after all — and we know that it’s key to killer execution. We also know how difficult it is to get right.

With E2E project management, collaboration happens, but it’s governable in a way that widespread cooperation is not. Using end-to-end is a lot like keeping roles internal; you limit the same risks as you would by avoiding outsourced work, which is so often associated with preventable error. And aside from being a centralized hub that controls a variety — if not all — of the project’s elements, E2E teams have the tools to more quickly assess risks, communicate issues, and recenter project focus when things get off track. With this kind of collapsed responsibility and predictable approach, reinforcing project value to stakeholders can be done with greater clarity. Project goals stay aligned with business objectives, and the simplicity of the process promotes agility. 

The Other End: Rules to Live By

Making E2E work for you will require some analysis, a little bit of patience, and a good deal of outlining processes up front. Use these 8 End-to-End best practices to keep things running smoothly:

  1. Select projects that are straightforward, with fewer elements. The more complex a project is, the less effective the E2E process will be.
  2. Point to the solutions before the problems arise by completing a thorough risk assessment, and determine how issues will be escalated. Often, E2E teams feel segregated from the organization, so identifying a liaison is crucial.
  3. Agree on a shortlist of technologies and approaches that can be used, and stick to them. When the overarching goal is efficient, clean execution, preference should take a back seat.
  4. Choose your team wisely. E2E doesn’t mean the Comms team initiates, designs, publishes and then sells an asset, since such versatile skill sets don’t usually exist within a single department. Don’t just recruit the people who have time, either — recruit the ones who have the right experience.
  5. Schedule everything. From vacations to milestones to meetings, it <i>all</all> goes in the calendar. E2E projects generally have tighter timelines; don’t get blindsided by things you can see from the get-go.
  6. Make sure everyone on the team understand the plan, the goals, and the timeline. It may seem obvious, but when each person is equally responsible for the different stages of an assignment, clarifying their role within each stage is necessary.
  7. Be accountable to each other. Everyone tests, everyone brainstorms, and everyone offers solutions. Tight-knit teamwork keeps people aware and operative.
  8. Update the entire team when anything changes or gets done. In E2E, these kinds of shifts often have a much greater impact on the overall success of a project than they would in an assignment that follows a more linear path.

End-to-end project management won’t work for everyone, and it won’t work for everything. But when it’s done right, it provides an easy-to-follow, simple-to-execute process with which internal projects can be quickly handled and successfully delivered with minimal risk of latency or failure.

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