Leading projects includes investigating options and alternative solutions. Projects may become overly focused on one solution without identifying or recognizing superior alternatives. The project leader should ensure that the project team investigates options before expending resources on a particular solution.
- Investigating your options is one of the six pillars of project leadership. Let's look at why it is so important and talk about some specific tools that can be extremely helpful. Have you ever bought something on an impulse only to feel the buyer's remorse of knowing that you could've gotten the same thing, or something even better, for less money? If you'd only done a bit more research. Well, the same thing happens with projects all the time. People get focused on a particular solution and start investing time and money to make it happen without really taking the time to consider alternatives that might actually have been better, faster, and cheaper.
Part of a project leader's job is to prevent groupthink where everyone on the team is marching forward without challenging assumptions and thinking about alternatives. There are number of tools that can help with investigating options. For example, a SWOT analysis can help you explain the strategic forces at play for your project. Process mapping can help you understand the steps in your processes and where the hand-offs occur. And financial analysis can provide the dollars and cents data to support your decision making.
How do you know whether you've done a good job of investigating the options? Well, some key questions that you should be able to answer are how many different ways have we thought of to solve this problem? Have we cast a wide enough net? How have other companies dealt with this challenge, and how has it worked for them? What are the benefits and drawbacks to each of the alternatives we considered? In our case study, for example, H+Sport is trying to solve a distribution problem and needs to investigate their options.
There are three proposals on the table that could fix their immediate problems. First, they could reduce the number of customers and focus on the customers that are most profitable. Second, they could hire another company to do their fulfillment. Or third, they could build a new distribution center. So, now it's time to investigate those options and learn about the costs and benefits of each. Take a few minutes on your own to think about each of those options. What questions should you ask about each, and what analytical tools could help you answer them? Which option do you like best? Which one do you like least, why? What would make one choice a better solution than another? Sometimes, your first idea may end up being the best, but there's a good chance that there are other good options too, maybe even a better one.
Your team should be able to demonstrate that you've considered all of the options, weighed the pros and cons, and made a decision based on quality information. Making an honest assessment of your alternatives is key to making the best choices for your organization.
- Name who is responsible for approving the resources for the project.
- Recall what the spine of a fishbone diagram represents.
- List characteristics of the environment.
- Identify the tools used for mapping processes.
- Recognize what needs to be captured on the action item list.
- Recall what project metrics should be related to.