Pay Me Now, or Pay Me later!

The other day, a colleague of mine asked me if I could sum up the benefits of Project Management in 10 words or less. “Pay me now or pay me later,” I said. Looking quizzical, he asked me to explain.

“Well, project management promotes the power of the plan. In some complex projects, planning can add up to 25% of the total time requirement. However, the planning time is at the front end of the project where the project team consists of just a few subject matter experts and the financial burn rate is a lot lower than during the execution phase of the fully staffed project.”

During the execution phase of the project, if you discover a task critical to project success that had not been planned for, the work on that segment of the project must cease, but the team members must still be paid — and the clock for delivery keeps ticking, of course. In my experience, what further complicates the situation is that people want to be productive, so they look for ways to keep busy by inventing work on the project, a phenomenon dubbed Scope Creep. When work lags behind the schedule, costs rise, penalties accumulate, and customer satisfaction (and confidence in the project team) slips. The loss of future business from that client may be the ultimate cost of the delay.

This concept can be demonstrated in any of the nine Project Management Knowledge Areas. In Project Quality Management, for example, it is referred to as the Cost of Quality. Studies have shown that if a good quality plan including the necessary skill levels, inspection techniques, and quality metrics is put into place early on in the project, quality costs are meaningfully impacted.


Similarly, if there is a Project Risk Management plan that identifies any and all risks, quantifies those with the greatest impact on their project, and determines what course of action – whether mitigation, acceptance or avoidance – will be used to manage those risks, all before the first risk event actually occurs, that greatly reduces the impact of the risk events that will inevitably occur.

That’s the power of the plan: Pay me now $ or pay me $$$ later!