Investment Management is Critical to Ensuring Competitive Advantage

April 6, 2009

Whether retooling a manufacturing line, automating with the latest technology or building a new plant, doing it right is critical to ensuring your competitive advantage.  That means making good choices upfront, before work begins.  Companies are finding that project management helps them evaluate the best possible approaches to their capital projects, saving them time and money, and—most important—setting them up for optimal performance over the long term.

Project management is generally used to plan and execute complex projects. Successful businesses are now bringing in project management early during the justification process.  By pressure testing plans and budgets, trained project managers can identify the options that best fit the company’s business needs.  Moreover, skilled individuals can tailor plans for maximum efficiency and effectiveness, translating into bottom-line savings.

Two case studies from a professional project management firm, Integrated Project Management Company in suburban Chicago, illustrate the value of preemptive project management.

Minimizing disruption.  To manufacture a new product, a major baked-goods manufacturer needed to install two production lines.  But overhauling the floor to accommodate the new lines would mean weeks of downtime the company simply could not afford, along with enormous expense.  Was there a better way?  After thoroughly analyzing current production processes, the project manager created process-flow diagrams that illustrated how to install the new lines while minimizing changes to the existing plant.  Thus armed, the company could make informed decisions as it moved forward.

Preventing waste.  A manufacturer of processed-meat products was considering a major change in its production processes.  The change sounded good…but how would it play out in reality?    Teaming with the firm’s internal staff, the project manager conducted trials with the new process, while minimizing disruption to current operations.  They discovered that, in fact, the proposed processes generated new operating problems that wiped out any benefit from the switch.  By getting the facts upfront, the company avoided a costly, and needless, capital investment.

In both cases, project management enabled companies to make decisions that met their immediate and long-term needs.  As economic pressures further diminish profit margins, project management can play an ever-greater role in overall business strategy.