So, what’s a project?
The challenge for logistics is that, at its most basic, every shipment and movement is a project. It has a start and end and is temporary. Every shipment is unique, even the ones that have been done before. So, you end up with projects within projects, and the aims may only sometimes be met. Enabling Logistics to support the project planning can unlock benefits across the project scope.
In the defined terms,
- it has an end date.
- it’s temporary.
- and not done before.
I will not stick too close to this; everything we do is a project. Even stuff you do every day, which is routine, has project elements. But let us not get too bogged down in the theocraticals.
When I start working on a project my focus is on how to provide answers and direction where it is missing, and there are many (remember it hasn’t been done before) so making sure we start right sets the tone for success.
The people who know me will have heard me say this many times, but for the lucky few, I am a manager of the risk. Yet, what I do is deliver logistics. I do this by acknowledging that risk is a factor, and it is the risk of conflict from the many projects working to provide the main project.
Before we go on, I must stress that Risk and Liability are different. Risk could go wrong (or right, as technically, risk could be an opportunity); however, liability is the entity or person that must pay for the risk if it happens (financially, operationally, legally, etc.). The confusion comes in that when we offset the risk, for example, by using a freight forwarder we may have not taken away the liability
This does create some awkward conversations later when paraphrasing Murphy’s law: what can go wrong will go wrong at the worst time.
So managing the risk of a project is more than identifying what is the risk. It’s making sure the impact of the risk and the owners of the risk are aware and have the ability to make an informed decision. The liable owners can change during the movement of cargo depending on the purchase/sales contract.
Defining what is required
This is not about how we ship but what value we are unlocking. The shipping mode and method are the details of how to achieve. Without knowing where the goal is and what the goal looks like (to continue with the sporting metaphor, are they basketball nets, football or rugby goal posts) the way to score is not the same.
Spending more time in the beginning working on these questions is the best way to ensure you spend your money wisely. To avoid taking it away from the project’s profitability. We want to be seen as effective, but sometimes, the best way to do this is patience.
Always keep asking questions
This does not mean planning is done only at the beginning; it is an evolutionary process. Yet, I have seen many projects go off the rails because it wasn’t appreciated that the starting point was the right point to start the journey.
Communication and consistency
These may seem unrelated, but once you know what is required, how it will be achieved and who is responsible, the ability to communicate consistently will save the project every time.
Communication is more than just putting words in an email or calling someone to chat. It’s the sharing of information, with the proper controls in place. Allowing people to be more effective, efficient and responsible.
The actual test of proper communication is the ability to be consistent throughout the project. It’s not only at the start where we need everyone to be informed but until the handover and completion. People may not need to act, but to be honest, without providing them with the information, you are robbing them of the ability to do more.
I love the uncertainty that comes with a project. The effort and the chaos are only for some, but what can be achieved is staggering; it goes way past what we can achieve individually.
When appropriately answered, how, who and why can truly achieve great things.
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Whether driven by need, imperative or because it is the right thing to do, Logistics is slowly moving forward on being a sustainable partner. Some
Take a risk. It’s the only way to keep moving life forward. Probably a reckless thought, especially as we overcome some very challenging times, but