Is an error of 1° a big deal, or is it simply a minor course correction that doesn’t impact the bottom line? If a pilot veers a single degree off course during a 100-mile journey, they're likely to reach their intended destination regardless– but if it's a journey of a thousand miles, becoming completely lost is much more likely.
Whether an issue is serious often relies upon the scope of the project. The farther and broader the project, the more those tiny little adjustments at the start are going to matter.
The Essentials of Course Correction
It isn't going off course that's the problem; the real issue is staying off course. Every project, whether big or small, will require necessary adjustments. But these seemingly minor adjustments can quickly become a significant problem regarding the end destination. When a project has gone off the rails, it can be impossible to determine where it will actually end up. This can lead to unpredictable results and complications further down the line.
Performing Regular Check-ins
A pilot can't just assume their plane is still on course; regular checking of flight data is necessary. These check-ins result in minor tweaks to the flight path to stay and/or get back on the correct flight path. This methodology translates to IT projects, as well. Regular checkpoints are absolutely essential to the management of a project; they verify and ensure things are going as closely to plan as possible. The sooner a course issue is identified, the easier it will be to fix.
Managing Employees While Staying the Course
Unfortunately, many employees tend to be resistant to course correction. Employees who work closely with a project often see course correction as babysitting when a supervisor jumps into a project mid-stream. The employee may feel as though they are getting advice from someone who is not qualified to give it, or if they are being micro-managed.
Employees need to understand course correction isn't just for the supervisor's benefit. Course correction reduces the amount of work the employee themselves will need to do on the project and increases the chance the end result will be a success.
Course Correction Is a Necessary Process
On the other side, supervisory staff and project managers need to understand course correction happens in even the best planned projects. Course correction is something inherent to the process; everyone goes off course once in a while. While management should be able to create reliable checkpoints and make sure course correction occurs, they shouldn't treat it as an unnecessary hassle or a problem with the employees themselves.
Is a matter of a single degree a large issue? It very well can be. Smaller projects often require less course correction because they simply don't have the time to drift too far away from their goals.
Larger projects, on the other hand, require continual check-ins and adjustments; otherwise their actual destination could be vastly different from their planned destination. By working together, both employees and project managers can adjust to issues as they occur without altering the final product.