How to create a more effective project management environment. The successful implementation or improvement of project management practices requires management to drive change. This is due to the environmental and procedural changes inherent in a transition to a project-based business model. And as with any corporate initiative, management support is essential in setting expectations, measuring improvement, and rewarding successful change.
The factors that influence the effectiveness of project management are often referred to as the ‘3 Axes of Continuous Improvement’; Culture, Organization, and Technology. Through these 3 axes the organization can create a environment for effective project management, as well as establish a baseline for measuring performance improvement.
The influences that shape the way people within the organization think and behave, and which are manifest through common behavior patterns and management styles, shared values and vision, attitudes and motivation. Key objectives of this component are:
• Breakdown functional barriers and power groups, eliminate information retention, encourage open communication and visibility
• Overcome fatalism, skeptical attitudes, lack of rigor
• Create shared vision and objectives across functional teams
• Ensure the involvement and buy-in of operational staff
All the elements that combine make up the project management process: the methodologies, definitions and standards that determine the project organization with the associated roles and responsibilities of the project stakeholders and team members, as well as the procedures and decision making processes. Key objectives of this component are:
• Clarify project and functional roles and responsibilities, especially in matrix organizations
• Provide visibility of resources: What skills are required? Do we have the capacity to take on a new project? Are there really overloads?
• Ensure the decision-makers have the information and tools to measure the impact of the decisions that are made.
• Establish a consistent vocabulary and management reporting process that provides an appropriate level of visibility, and improves decision making.
The concepts and methods of time, resource and cost management together with the associated project data and information processing systems. Key objectives of this component are:
• Promote the concepts of project management throughout the organization
• Ensure consistent and timely progress reporting
• Guarantee the accuracy of information and report data
• Anticipate and exploit evolving information technology
• Acknowledge and apply the discipline imposed by information systems
Project-Based Business Implementation Support
With many project management consulting organizations to choose from, ideally, businesses should seek to find organizations much like their own in terms of business philosophy, understanding of their industry, years of experience, and sense of urgency. Some key elements of effective project management consulting firms are:
• Formalized engagement management procedures
• An effective project management methodology that can accommodate standards such as the Project Management Institute’s Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®), or ISO 10006 guidelines to quality in Project Management
• A clear focus on knowledge transfer
• Project Leadership training
• Operational project support at both contractor and client level
• Training and onsite assistance of project staff
Formalized Engagement Management
Using a formalized approach to implementing new systems helps businesses prepare for the technical, organizational and cultural changes that are inevitable with new processes and software. Project management is no exception. For this reason, using a proven methodology helps organizations approach project management with more confidence and structure. In turn, these formalized approaches help to educate and train administrators, users and stake- holders on the system, which has proven to improve software adoption rates and user acceptance.
Regardless of the method chosen, the sequence of events leading to implementation can often be broken down into five main areas, each containing a subset of specific activities or deliverables. These often include:
• Project Definition – assesses existing business processes, measures project maturity, and makes recommendations
• Implementation Planning – defines objectives, scope of work, critical success factors, and individual roles
• System and Business Planning – educates project team on fundamental project management principles, defines application customizations, and determines integration levels with existing business systems
• Pilot – compares system and processes with defined objectives, while focusing on knowledge transfer
• Roll-out – includes user education, leadership train- ing, and the establishment of a project office
International and Global Consistency
Today, enterprise project management implementations are rarely limited to a single location, or even a single language or culture. For this reason, formalized methodologies play a key role in establishing the standards and consistency necessary for disparate offices to share information and knowledge in a constructive manner. Together these make for a more effective project management environment.