I’ve been ‘white-boarding’ legal matters since my days helping out on front-end major projects back in 1996; so the concept of ‘mapping out’ how a transaction might progress, what may be ‘in scope’ and ‘out of scope’, the approximate amount of time the transaction may take and how we are going to resource it are not new to me. In more recent times (largely following the GFC in 2008) the legal industry has formalised my approach of ’white-boarding’ matters to become Legal Project Management.
While I was never really that sure over the years how Legal Project Management differed from the more general Project Management, I have been assured – on numerous occasions – that there is a difference. When asked how, the most common response I received was that:-
- Legal Project Management is the discipline of project managing ‘tacit knowledge’ – as ‘knowledge workers’, while
- Project Management is the discipline of project managing tangible products, e.g., the construction of a hospital.
And until the last month or so I thought that was a pretty good answer.
So what changed?
Well, in the last month and a bit I have attended a collective 5 day (2 day and then a 3 day) course on Project Management Fundamentals run by PM-Partners Group here in Sydney.
The two day Fundamentals (essentially, theory) session was outstanding and broken-down into the following nine (9) modules:
- What makes projects succeed (and by implication, fail)
- The essential project management philosophy
- The project life cycle
- Project planning – project definition and scoping
- Project planning – creating the WBS & schedule
- Project planning – estimating
- Project risk
- Project execution & control
- Project closure
In turn, if you were on a course where you learnt all about:
- scope creep
- the difference between what a risk is and what an issue is (hint, one has happened and the other hasn’t)
- how to do a business case and a project plan
- the triangle of scope, cost, time and quality
- the four dependency types [finish-start; start-start; finish-finish; and start-finish], and
- you get to work on creating a Work Breakdown Structure and Estimating (Optimistic, Pessimistic and Most Likely – also looking at the Cone of Uncertainty)
Wouldn’t you think you had been on one of the best Legal Project Management training courses around?
Well, that’s exactly what the two day PM-Partners run Project Management Fundamentals course taught me and I have walked away from that course thinking to myself that you can keep the classify ‘Legal’, at the end of the day it’s project management and it’s this type of project management we need to get better at.
My biggest take-out though?
Understanding the difference between a risk and an issue, because anyone doing pricing should get their head around this because it really is as important (and probably goes hand-in-hand with) as what happens with scope creep [helpful extra tip: want to understand scope creep, look up what happens with the formula: n (n – 1) /2].
Get in touch if you want to hear/find out more, otherwise get yourself on a really good PM Fundamentals course because I can guarantee it will pay for itself!