Realizing the Value of Project Management02 January 2020

Project Management

In this ever-changing and disruptive technology age flanking a sluggish economy, leading projects and programs that meet time, cost, and scope constraints are exponentially more important to maintaining a competitive edge — and even more critical to achieving long-term strategic initiatives. In light of this, many organizations have turned to some combination of project-, program-, and portfolio-management methodologies to address this challenge. Yet, few organizations have realized the value of proven project-management principles that increase an organization’s ability to not only deliver successful projects and programs, but also to meet strategic objectives.

Following are keys to realizing the full value of project, program, and portfolio management:

Create a culture that recognizes the benefits of project management.

Create a culture or mindset acknowledging the benefit of project management as a methodology that enhances your organization’s ability to achieve strategic initiatives and gain a competitive advantage. Begin by implementing a top-down change-management plan that provides a structured approach to support individuals within the organization as they move from their current project-management beliefs to an effective project-management methodology befitting your organization and its strategic direction. Organizations prioritizing a cultural shift that recognizes the importance of project management report that 71 percent of their projects meet both the original goals and business intent.

Engage executive stakeholders.

Insist on executive stakeholder engagement. Creating a project management-supportive mindset, as a driver of strategic initiatives, is a baby step in the right direction. Engaging executive stakeholders is a giant leap forward. Critical to sustaining the motivation behind both projects and project teams, executive stakeholders tie projects to business objectives. According to Project Management Institute’s (PMI’s) 2016 Pulse of the Profession® study, only 3 in 5 projects have engaged executive stakeholders. Of those projects, 65 percent are categorized as successful.

Developing a “Strategic Management Plan” will further executive-stakeholder engagement by aligning the organization’s mission, vision, and strategy to the strategic objectives underpinning the initiation of a project or program. The 2015 Pulse of the Profession® study states that for every US$1 billion invested in projects and programs, more than US$109 million is wasted by organizations that hold a less than ideal project-management mindset.

Standardize project-, program-, and portfolio-management principles.

After creating a culture that acknowledges project management as a strategic driver and actively gains executive stakeholder support, implement a set of standardized project, program, and portfolio principles. Implementing and adhering to proven methodologies reduces risks, cuts costs, and improves overall success rates of projects and programs. Standardizing project-management principles and processes ensures project managers will not have to reinvent the wheel; and every project manager can work from a standard set of tools. Although standardization will significantly improve project-management efficiency, it must allow for customization to benefit both the organization and its customers. As no project, project team, or customer are alike, project and program managers must have the freedom to adjust tools like reports, plans, and strategies to best meet project or program needs.

Develop Project and Program Managers.

Investing in the professional development of project and program managers will accept its weight in gold. While technical skills are core to project management, focus on developing project managers who have a combination of technical-, leadership-, and business-management expertise. Professional development is achieved through a variety of formal educational opportunities, active participation in local project-management chapters, in-house mentoring groups, and memberships in leading project-management associations like the Project Management Institute.

Some of the benefits of implementing a continuous-learning or professional-development program are better-managed budgets, scheduling, project scope, delivery of requirements; reduced risks; and improved cost savings. According to the 2015 Pulse of the Profession® study, organizations that invest in project management not only waste 13 times less money, but also successfully meet project and program goals two-and-a-half times more often than their counterparts that choose not to make this investment.

Implement a benefits-realization program.

All too often, projects are considered finished when the requirements are delivered; but the actual advantages of a project are typically realized over time. By establishing a benefits-realization program, an organization puts processes in place to create structure, accountability, clarity, and a disciplined approach to maximizing the advantages of a project or program. In essence, a benefits-realization program validates the need for a project or program by laying a foundation to measure the achievement of business needs. If business goals are not met, the program provides a medium for improvements to ensure the goals of all future strategic initiatives are accomplished.

The beauty of these recommendations on how organizations can realize the full value of project management is that a project or program manager can lead, facilitate, and organize this effort. However, make no bones about it, this is not a cause that should be left to the project or program manager to champion—this effort should be spearheaded by the entire organization if it wants to capture the full value of project management.

If your company seeks assistance in implementing project management, North Star Group can help. Every member of our team of experts has extensive experience in supporting every phase of a program throughout its lifecycle. Contact us today to talk more about your project-management needs

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