Would you be surprised to learn that failed projects quite often fail not because of some big, unforeseen problem, but because a lot of incomplete administrative tasks added up to doom the end result? Whether you are talking a big company project worth millions of dollars or completing a remodeling project at home, all the little tasks add up to something pretty big.
A home remodeling project can get derailed by failing to make a meeting with your contractor, a meeting at which you would have learned that you needed to file for certain permits. One missed administrative task leads to a second, then a third, and so on. Before you know it, work has halted while you deal with the city. Similar things occur with company projects.
The thing about company projects is that administrative tasks are often thought of as separate from the projects to which they are attached. This is a mistake, at least according to the experts at Atlanta-based Janiko Group. They believe so strongly in the importance of administrative tasks that they include them on their menu of services.
Administrative tasks can appear negligible in the grand scope of a large project involving millions of dollars and hundreds of employees. Take scheduling meetings, as an example. It is a task that seems rather easy to complete. Any administrative assistant should be able to handle it. Yet that’s not always the case.
It is one thing to schedule meetings for a small group of individuals working on a single task. But in terms of a large-scale project involving multiple teams with hundreds of workers, meetings have to be scheduled with the needs of everyone involved kept in mind. When you are working with a dozen or more managers, scheduling meetings becomes a gargantuan task.
Another administrative task that is easy to lose track of is contacting vendors. There may be a lengthy list of vendors involved in just one phase of the project. They all have to be contacted whenever there is a change in the project scope or budget. Failing to contact just one could throw the entire project off.
Keeping vendors in the loop is absolutely critical. It is not enough to assume that an administrative assistant is going to make the necessary contacts. Project managers need a way to verify those contacts have been made. Otherwise bad things could happen.
Even something as seemingly innocuous as keeping the storeroom stocked with supplies is critical to the success of so many company projects. Running to the storeroom and finding no copy paper could mean not having enough copies of the project update to pass out at the meeting you are due to hold later that day. Without those updates, your meeting becomes a lot more difficult.
Here’s the thing: project managers often fail to realize how important office supplies are until they are without something they need. Only then does the problem become obvious. That’s the way it is with most administrative tasks. It is easy to just assume they will be taken care of without any concerted effort to follow up on them. When those administrative tasks are not completed, everyone suffers.
There is a tendency to think of company projects on a very broad scope. Project managers and company brass focus a lot on the big picture. There is nothing wrong with that. But the big picture is always made up of many, many smaller pieces. Among those smaller pieces are the administrative tasks necessary for functioning. They all add up to contribute to the success of a project.