Project management should be part of your DNA

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Puleo

By Larry Puleo

A critical first step to make enterprise-wide project management part of an organization’s DNA is for key leaders to realize that enterprise project management is about process and people, not software. Key leaders must move away from ad-hoc and silo pipe-lining of projects and ad-hoc allocation of resources and move toward a methodology focused on improved alignment and execution processes.

Executive management must manage the strategic project demand vs. money and resource capacity equation. The management of that equation impacts the cost benefit realization equation. The longer it takes to complete the project, the more it costs.

Alignment processes need to be established to evaluate, select, prioritize, resource and sequence projects to ensure they’re in sync with strategy and can deliver project results as soon as possible. Quite often I find that organizations have more than 80 percent of their projects focused on running the business. Alignment processes should also consider initiating more projects that grow and transform the business. Execution processes such as requirements definition, scope development, planning, oversight, reporting, risk management and change control must be in place to deliver initiatives at the tactical level.

The organizational benefit is engaged management that has oversight to ensure the organization is working on the right projects; makes appropriate decisions to ensure funding and resources are allocated to the right areas; has visibility into project performance on a consistent basis; and ensures limited resources are focused on the most important projects in order for the organization to obtain the quickest return on their investment.

Another critical success factor to make enterprise project management stick is the commitment to people development and the establishment of a project management center of excellence. Commonly known as the strategic project management office, the focus of the center of excellence is to improve the organization’s and individual’s project management execution capability. This is accomplished by a continual dose of project management training, coaching and mentoring at all levels in the organization.

Project management is the ‘accidental’ profession. Most organizations will tap someone on the shoulder and tell him/her that they are needed to manage a project. Chances are the people leading your projects haven’t had any project management training and are struggling along without understanding their role in the project enterprise. They are probably not aware of the project management processes that need to be followed to be successful nor are they equipped with any tools, tips and techniques to deal with the complexity of managing cross organizational teams.

I recently visited an organization to facilitate some planning sessions for a new project. Prior to the meetings I was given a tour of the facility by a senior leader. I was introduced to the technology, HR, finance, and operation departments. Everyone indicated they had five to 10 projects underway. I asked my tour guide to bring me to the project department and was told one did not exist. I asked where people go for guidance, counsel and advice on how to handle the many issues that occur on a project. My tour guide was speechless.

If you really want to make enterprise project management stick you must improve both the organization’s and individual’s project management capabilities. Executives receive coaching and mentoring why not your accidental project managers. Providing project management coaching and mentoring will help develop the management and leadership skills needed to improve project delivery resulting in the following organizational benefits: quicker return on investment; improved project throughput and reduced project cycle time; elimination of the ‘accidental’ project manager; and timely delivery of what you said you would deliver to your customer.

Organizations need to unclog their arteries that are the result of project volume exceeding resource capacity and trim the project excess to achieve a healthy condition. Having an overabundance of projects underway moving at snails pace is not an effective way of executing strategy. There is no silver bullet. Don’t go out and buy a software solution. Institutionalizing the processes and training and educating your people are your ticket to success.

To make enterprise project management stick executives must change their behavior and take an active seat in the initiation and execution of strategic projects.

Larry Puleo a certified project manager (PMP) is president of MLP Consultants LLC which helps companies execute their strategies. Contact him at lpuleo@mlpconsultants.com or visit mlpconsultants.com.

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