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Why do we set up practices and structures in our organizations?
Why do we standardize processes and procedures?
What’s with continuous improvement anyway?
Is it for show…are we trying to ‘look’ good?
Doubtful. We’re trying to make money. That’s what ‘for profit’ business is all about. Make money so that we can stay in business, keep our good employees, and keep seeking out more business. It’s called capitalism and it’s a good thing.
So we generally try to engage in activities that align with our goals and mission of our organization. You know what I’m talking about – those things that are officially in place to help guide our organization down the path of profitability. We tend to seek business and engage in practices that line up well with the goals and mission of our company. If what we’re doing doesn’t line up with those – then we won’t in business very long.
There’s little difference with our project management practice. What we do, the projects we seek out, how we run them, and how our customer perceives us running them should align with the goals and mission of our organization. We should be in the project management business to make money. So the question begs to be answered: Is your PM practice that you currently have going in your organization truly giving you a competitive advantage? Is it winning you customers, giving you consistency, exuding excellence? It should be and here are some things you should be looking for when trying to determine if what you have is working or if it needs some tweaking to help you better serve your PMs, your customers, and the financial bottom line of your organization…
What tools are you using? Do you have a powerful enough project management tool in place to allow your PMs to adequately manage the project schedule, the resources, and the tasks assigned to them? Collaboration, of course, is important. If you seek out a tool that allows your PMs to manage and interface with their teams – and even the customer, when appropriate – then your PM teams may be one step ahead of the game. Does your team have smart phones to manage their calendars and information on the go? The ability to access email in the field as a PM can be critical. In a May 2010 survey focused on equipping the project manager, 68% of survey responders indicated that they were not being issued smart phones by their organizations thus inhibiting their ability to manage their team and projects ‘on the go.’ Yet in a June 2010 survey on managing the project, 40% stated poor communication as the primary reason for project failures. See the correlation?
Has the executive management in your organization put in place the structure to allow for ongoing success in managing projects? A solid PM practice that makes the customer feel like there is a consistency within the organization requires reusable templates, processes, and procedures to be in place. With out these in place, your PMs end up relying too much on luck rather than proven structure. In an April 2010 survey on PMO effectiveness, a full 66% of responders stated that their organizations had very little to no in place in the way of processes, templates, and procedures that the PMs could use on a project by project basis to consistently deliver for the customer.
Finally, strong leadership at the top is critical. Is your PM practice part of an overall PMO structure? And is your PMO headed by a PMO director? Does executive management support the PMO and fund it well to help ensure its ongoing viability and effectiveness? PMO directors should be focusing on running the PMO and ensuring that the PMs are well equipped to do their jobs. They should not be functioning primarily as project managers, they should be leading. Unfortunately, surveyed PMs indicated that 43% of their PMOs were being headed by directors who were acting more in the role of a project manager than as a PMO director. And 47% of responders indicated that their company leadership had basically no visible involvement in their PMO.
These survey numbers show that many of our PMOs around the world aren’t really fulfilling their responsibilities. They aren’t truly giving their organizations the consistent project delivery and the overall competitive advantage that they could be. How does your PM practice match up? It may be time to analyze this important area to ensure that you’re serving your project customers to the best of your ability.
About the author: Brad Egeland is an IT/PM & Business Strategy consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can visit his website at www.bradegeland.com.