Why Running After Perfection can Kill Your Projects

Running after perfection can hinder your project’s success, despite your best intentions and efforts. Generally speaking, your project scope must align with its time and budget - a rule that doesn’t play well with the pursuit of perfection from start to finish. In this article, we’ll look at why perfection shouldn’t be your ultimate goal - but how to still satisfy your inner perfectionist as a project manager.

Chasing perfection is not a bad thing, but today, it is something of a commodity. In other words: a project that you can modify and edit to perfection without any time constraints is a privilege rather than the norm.

Often this is because your projects are not funded by your own resources – if there are stakeholders involved, they are not really interested in what you as a project manager want. Rather, they are interested in how you can make their investment worthwhile. It is not uncommon for new project managers who are eager to please to be too emotionally involved in their projects. Aspiring for perfection or to impress all stakeholders is an approach that very often will backfire. Here are a few reasons why running after perfection can terminate your project – but also a few ways still channel your inner perfectionist to achieve better results.

Limitations

Chasing perfection on projects is untenable chiefly because you will encounter many limitations such as funds, time, and the expectations of your superiors.

By trying to implement your entire vision of the project from start to finish, you risk running out of funds, and due to this insufficiency, the end result will also be flawed. Tight deadlines can also be a factor: if you are constantly editing or tweaking every detail, your project will not be delivered on time, and timing is crucial for making a profit.

You also need to take into consideration what your superiors and stakeholders expect. Your vision of a perfect product may not align completely with what they had in mind or with your company’s goals. Everyone’s input and vision must be within the borders of the project scope, which should in turn be in accordance with budget, time, and company goals.

Unpredictability

Let’s assume you do have freedom to realize this perfect version of the project you had in mind. Should you pursue it? It depends.

For example, if you’re a project manager for a small company that still has a long way to go for brand awareness, your perfect end result is a big gamble. Successful advertising is a lot more difficult during the initial stage of a company’s existence; it can take a lot of time for your business to expand, to think on a larger scale, and to be noticed by the public. Even if your product is brilliant, there are many other factors at play that could cause it to go unnoticed or buried beneath all of the other content that circulates around the web.

If you do not reach the designated ROI, then your project will be considered a failure, despite the fact that it was your best effort.

Too much stress

Of course, you will not work on one single project throughout your career, so you must think about the future work as well, and how that will affect your team. The pursuit of perfection necessitates your full investment – and not only you, but also your teammates, who undoubtedly will feel unfairly pressured. Even if your project turns out to be a success, it may have a negative impact on workflow and morale in the future.

If the work becomes too stressful for your employees, their productivity will drop. Striving for perfection may be counterproductive on the long run, and could be too big of a sacrifice to pursue in the short-term. Go for constant efficiency – not for fleeting glory.

Perfection is more a question of perspective

Another point that should be taken into consideration is perspective. Every one of us has a different perspective resulting from the different experiences we had in life. Maybe your perfect vision is not compatible with the one your superiors or coworkers had in mind.

A project manager is primarily a coordinator, not someone who defines the highest standard possible. It is crucial to remember that you are not an adequate judge for your own work: it is your customers and other stakeholders who have the final say whether they liked or disliked the final result.

Perfection doesn’t imply profitability

Even if your end result is astounding, and approved by both customers and superiors, it still doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve done a good job – for example, if you have invested too much in product development, you now may not be able to sell it at an affordable price. As well, it’s important to remember people pay for a brand name as much as a product, so your product could be trumped by another, more famous brand. Whatever the case, if you don’t end up with profitable results, your project will be deemed a botched attempt – a high price to pay for perfection.

Chase perfection in execution rather than final product

If you are a perfectionist, you can still pursue your best work! Rather than channeling your efforts into making a perfect product, try instead to focus on a perfect execution of the project itself. To do this, ensure that everyone on your team knows what they need to do, and that all of their tasks are finished on schedule. Make sure people communicate and collaborate in a healthy working environment, and track time and accomplishments on every aspect of your project to see how well your team is improving.

Relying on online project management system can help immensely. Here, you can organize your data, make sure everyone has an assignment, and ensure that all team members are aware of deadlines or changes. You can archive your work, use it for future reference, and improve efficiency.

Project tracking software is a great way to be certain everything goes according to plan – and if you stick to the project scope. If users are satisfied, and if your company makes a profit, then that’s what matters. Focus on being a perfect manager rather than creating a perfect product.

By Jason Grills

About the author

Jason Grills is a technical writer currently associated with ProProfs Project. He enjoys writing about emerging project management products, trends in project management industry and the financial impacts of using such tools. He lives in Los Angeles, California. In his spare time, Jason enjoys long walks on the beach, listening to blues and doing all things creative.

Email: [email protected]

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