Decision-making techniques - how to make the right choice
However, especially when making important and far-reaching project decisions, you should not rely solely on your gut feeling. To minimise the risk of making the wrong decision, project managers have a number of decision-making techniques at their disposal.
Example from the world of project management
A project manager has a choice between two equally qualified project members. However, the "gut feeling", based on a mixture of professional experience and knowledge of human nature, is clearly in favour of one candidate.
Many decisions have to be made every day in the project. Some examples of classic project decisions are:
- "Do we tell our client now that the costs are exploding or do we continue as before without informing until the next status meeting?"
- "Do we hire this project staff member or wait until we find someone better qualified?"
- "Do we buy the tool from supplier A or B?"
1. Justify the need for the decision
2. Describe alternatives
3. Reduce alternatives to one clear statement in writing
4. Compare alternatives and their consequences in a matrix
5. Weight the consequences (e.g. according to severity, assign points according to the school grading system)
6. Make a decision
7. Justify the decision in writing
8. Document the decision
Decisions of minor importance, which do not have serious consequences if they turn out to be wrong, are good for practising.
It is very important to write down the different alternatives. This makes it easier to keep track and gives a sense of control over the problem. A useful method is to make a two-column table with the advantages and disadvantages listed in the appropriate columns.
A reasoned and documented decision suggests that thorough research and careful consideration have taken place. However, if the decision is wrong, the question is how to deal with it. It is well known that it is not always possible to make the right decision, but almost every wrong decision can be corrected. So there is no need to worry.
Gather information and ask those affected
The project manager can avoid problems with stakeholders such as project staff, departments within the organisation or the works council by consulting them before making decisions. This involves asking them how they are affected by the issue and how the decision might affect them. In this way, decisions can be made on a broader basis and potential resistance to certain options can be identified and addressed at an early stage. Involving stakeholders strengthens the decision-making process and highlights the leadership qualities of the project manager.
Conduct a pro and contra analysis
Building a decision-making framework
In international projects, a specific decision-making process can be developed with the team that is understood and supported by all team members. It is important that the decision-making process is transparent and comprehensible to all team members. It should be regularly reviewed whether the decision-making process needs to be adapted due to changes in the framework conditions - this applies not only to cultural differences, but in general.
Ideally, this can be done by building on the existing sequential decision-making framework:
- Determine the initial situation
- Gather the necessary information
- Develop alternative solutions
- Evaluate solutions and select the most appropriate alternative
- Communicate the decision
- Implemente the decision
1. What are the benefits to individuals and committees of delaying or avoiding decisions?
From the point of view of those who should be making decisions, there are some advantages to not making decisions:
- Avoiding an uncertain future.
- Keeping options open.
- Avoiding negative consequences.
- Avoiding hurting others.
Those who avoid decisions give a wide range of excuses for their behaviour:
- More information is needed.
- All available information must be carefully considered.
- Contradictions must first be resolved.
- In supposedly unclear situations, security and orientation must first be created.
A one-to-one meeting or phone call is a good way to secure the support of key people before the crucial meeting. Power promoters, such as a committed board member, or specialists, such as a technically skilled member of the project team, can help you as the project manager to represent your concerns well, for example to top management, the customer or the supplier. At the same time, as a project manager, you must not hide, but take a clear stand yourself, but always in the right environment and in the right language. It is all about how and where you say something.