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The key question to prevent value erosion


To manage risk on complex projects, it pays to seek points of leverage. The earlier, the better. Start by asking: When does the project begin?

Everyone understands that projects have phases. But ask a dozen people to define when the project actually begins and you’ll get at least thirteen answers.

Does it start at sanction? Or when the contract’s awarded? Or only when a project manager is assigned? The understanding is muddy.

Why does it matter?

Large complex feats of engineering are often well planned in the execution phase. But projects begin earlier than those undertaking them fully recognize. Well-intentioned efforts to improve their management and control are therefore baked into the plan too late to prevent value erosion.

This value erosion will inevitably have started as soon as (and usually even before) most project professionals would say their projects begin. Fuzziness on this question can cost your organization a lot. On the other hand, getting clear on all the attendant risks from the outset creates a major point of leverage.

“Well-intentioned efforts to improve their management and control are baked into the plan too late”

To deliver the business outcome you want, make sure everyone on the project team, and on up the chain, understands this opportunity and answers the fundamental question: When does the project begin?