Program and Project Management (PMO)
How does your organization view projects?
LEADERSHIP: Does your organization have a consistent reputation managing projects?
VALUE PROPOSITION: Has your business developed a Project Management Office?
GROWTH FOCUSED: Is your project success and ROI consistently monitored?
RESULTS ORIENTED: Do your projects consistently come in on time and within budget?
Looking for a way to stay ahead of the pack in today’s competitive and chaotic global economy, companies are turning to project management to consistently deliver business results. The vast majority of organizations have an inconsistent reputation.
Do any of the following characteristics describe your organization?
- Projects completed late, over-budget, or without meeting the functionality requirements of your client
- Weak standard processes and techniques used inconsistently by project managers
- Project management is reactive and not seen as providing value
- The time required to manage projects proactively is not built into the schedule
- Project management is considered ‘overhead’
- Projects are “successful” in spite of a lack of planning and project management, by “heroes” that overcome heavy stress and overtime work to get the job done
Good project management discipline is the way to overcome these shortcomings. Having good project management skills does not mean you have no problems. It does not mean that risks go away. It does not mean that there are no surprises. The value of good project management is that you have standard processes in place to deal with all contingencies.
An Economist Intelligence report showed that 80 percent of global executives believed having project management as a core competency helped them remain competitive during the recession.
Project Management and the Competitive Advantage
Implementing project management across the organization helps create a strategic value chain that gives companies an edge on their competitors, particularly in high-risk sectors and markets. Being able to deliver projects on time and within budget often determines whether a company will get the next job or whether its new product hits the market.
Project management processes and techniques are used to coordinate resources to achieve predictable results. However, it should be understood that project management is not an exact science and there is never a guarantee of success. Since projects involve people, there is always complexity and uncertainty that cannot be absolutely controlled.
Project management is both science and art. It is science in that it relies on proven and repeatable processes and techniques to achieve project success. It is an art because it also involves managing and relating to people and requires the project manager to apply intuitive skills in situations that are totally unique for each project. A good project management methodology provides the framework, processes, guidelines and techniques to manage the people and the work. A good methodology increases the odds of being successful and therefore provides value to the organization, the project and the project manager.
The value proposition for project management starts with the proposition that it takes time and effort to proactively manage a project. This cost is more than made up for over the life of the project by:
- Completing projects more quickly and cheaply. One of the biggest benefits of using a common methodology is the value of reuse. Once the processes, procedures and templates are created, they can be used (perhaps with small modifications) on all projects in the future. This results in reduced project start-up time, a shorter learning curve for project team members and time savings from not having to reinvent processes and templates from scratch on each project.
- Being more predictable. One of the first benefits that should occur with good project management processes is that you will be more predictable. You will find that if you do a better job of planning you will better understand the work to be accomplished, and you will do a better job of estimating this work. Then as the project progresses you will do a better job of managing the work to hit your estimated schedule and budget. This ability to be predictable is crucial when your company is making business decisions about which projects to execute. You should strive to achieve a level of predictability of 80%. In other words, 80% of your projects will finish on-time and within budget.
- Saving effort and cost with proactive scope management. Many projects have difficulty managing scope, which results in additional effort and cost to the project. Having better project management processes will result in being able to manage scope more effectively.
- Better solution “fit” the first time through better planning. Many projects experience problems because there is a gap between what the client expects and what the project team delivers. Using a methodology results in better project planning, which gives the team and the sponsor an opportunity to make sure they are in agreement on the major deliverables produced by the project.
- Resolving problems more quickly. Some teams spend too much time and energy dealing with problems because they do not know how to resolve the problems. Having a proactive issues management process helps ensure that problems are resolved as quickly as possible.
- Resolving future risk before the problems occur. Project management includes processes to identify and manage risks. Sound risk management processes will result in potential problems being identified and managed before the problems actually occur.
- Communicating and managing expectations with customers, team members and stakeholders more effectively. Many problems on a project can be avoided with proactive and multifaceted communication. In addition, much of the conflict that does arise on a project is not the result of a specific problem, but because of surprises. Project management focuses on proactive formal and informal communication, which results in fewer surprises.
- Building a higher quality product the first time. Project management contains quality management processes that will help the team understand the needs of the customer in terms of quality. Once those needs are defined, the team can implement quality control and quality assurance techniques to meet the customer expectations.
- Improved financial management. This is the result of better project definition, better estimating, more formal budgeting and better tracking of the project actual costs against the budget. All this rigor results in better financial predictability and control.
- Stopping “bad” projects more quickly. “Bad” projects are those where the cost-benefit justification no longer makes sense. A project may have started with sound cost-benefit justification. However, if the project is late and over-budget it may hit a threshold where the business case is no longer valid. Effective project management allows you to see these situations earlier so that you can make better decisions to re-scope or cancel the project.
- More focus on metrics and fact-based decision making. One of the more sophisticated aspects of project management is that it provides guidance to make it easier to collect metrics (measurements). Metrics give you information that helps you determine how effectively and efficiently your team is performing and the level of the quality of your deliverables. Metrics also give you the information necessary to validate whether or not you were successful.
- Improved work environment. If your projects are more successful, you will find additional intangible benefits associated with your project team. Your customers will have more involvement, your project team will take more ownership of the project, morale will be better, and the project team will behave with a greater sense of professionalism and self-confidence. This should make sense. People that work on projects with problems tend to be unhappy. On the other hand, people on successful projects tend to feel better about their jobs and themselves.
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