Project Management Best Practices Are Not Set In Stone

Managing your manufacturing project sets up certain expectations that need to be accomplished, and it’s often tough to implement a brand new set of tools or communication systems within your department or plant-wide when a job is time-sensitive, or the workforce is resistant to change.

Keep in mind that your choice of best practices doesn’t necessarily need to be directly taken from your current plant’s playbook, though.  The old maxim of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies here, and borrowing best practices from more successful production programs in your field can often be implemented with great success, but it’s often best to utilize ideas and tools from similar industries.  A bakery will probably have a much different flow, process, and culture that differs greatly from a tire manufacturer.

Despite this, rejecting one thing does not necessarily preclude everything; while that bakery may not have a process that corresponds, they may have various management techniques that could still have poignancy to the tire plant.  The idea is to find things that can be used in your project without having to invent everything from scratch.

For example, one of the greatest long-term project management best practices that has been studied and implemented elsewhere is lean, originally developed from the Toyota Motor Corporation’s production system.  Many folks took it, tweaked it, and keep adding to it.  Despite its cross-platform viability, it is inherently a system of best practices that can improve your own project while having the flexibility to accommodate even areas as diverse as aerospace to toy manufacturing.

Using best practices is like standing on the shoulders of giants – you get all of the benefits without any of the downtime or development issues.

Now, of course, a project can require a completely innovative approach, and force the project manager to go where no one has gone before, but these projects are usually few and far between.  My opinion is to use what is there and shape it to fit, rather than to forge ahead and rely on pure trial and error. This saves you downtime, reducing time-wasting and the need to fix mistakes that could have ultimately been avoided through customized best practices.