Project-Based Business Management Model
Best practices can bring project success. There isn’t a single term used to describe any thriving business, but you’ve heard them all: global, fast-paced, decentralized. That’s because successful businesses aren’t a single, strategic project; they have multiple initiatives leveraging each other to meet their over-arching business objectives. Not only are there multiple projects, but these are widespread, decentralized and achieved using global work forces, across multiple functional areas and locations.
The key to business success is sharing that project information, and presenting it to an ever widening group of stakeholders – senior management, suppliers, partners, clients – all of whom can impact, strengthen and even threaten the outcome at any time.
There is only one truly superior business model for success: project-based organization. This enables instant responsiveness to market pressures, effective and efficient resource utilization with industry best project control, performance and, crucially, organizational flexibility to maximize core-project investments and leverage new, state-of-the-art technology.
Key Metrics For Project-Based Management
Project-based management isn’t a new discovery from social media. It’s continually shown to be the driving force behind successful businesses for years. The underlying foundations of project-based management are fashioned from multiple key business drivers – business elements that are so fundamental, they make or break business competitiveness and success. These include:
- Reduced development – time and expense
- Extended product range
- Increase in multi-functional teams and partnerships
- Global service centers built from cross functional teams
- Elevated importance of controlling individual activity
- Multi-national development
- IT and PM standardization
- Acquisition and joint-venture restructuring of industry sectors
- Limited government spending
- Extra-net management of resources and consultants
- Free flowing information and knowledge bases
Different businesses focus on different combinations of these drivers, resulting in unique adaptation challenges to a project-based model. There are any number of hurdles facing an organization as it undertakes this change – including cultural, technological, and of course, organizational. The biggest challenge to change, is squarely meeting the always-present inherent resistance from those set in their ways, or fearful of the unknown.
The only measurably successful strategy for change implementation requires balanced process and organization improvement, as well as adaptation of the culture of each industry and market. To get the buy-in and participation of the entire organization, it’s really important to re-introduce process fundamentals to everyone on every project – from project leader to every team member and contributor.
Establishing The Project-Based Environment
No matter what you might think, building a project- based management environment doesn’t mandate trained, dedicated, professional project managers that were necessary in traditional business models. Today’s matrix-driven work place requires team members to be both managers and individual contributors on any number of projects.
This is usually accompanied by the informal and/or infrequent use of PM tools. Most of the successful project-based organizations recruit, train and manage staff with resumes completely lacking in formal project management.
Establishing a successful project-based model requires a unique approach for each specific organization, but there are common, critical success factors:
- PM alignment with corporate strategy and business objectives
- Top down ownership of the approach, from Board Members on down
- Bottom up involvement and education of everyone in the organization
- Attention paid and maintained on the human factors
- Implementation is itself, managed as a project
- Guarantee competent knowledge transfer to key players
- Measure and present progress
An integrated approach makes these factors more predictable and manageable; and just like every well- organized project, implementing project-based management is its own project. And because this is their first project-based project implementation for most organizations, it’s a great introduction as well as being the organization’s hands-on learning tool.
Inherent Project Management Difficulties
PM’s successful implementation – as well as continued improvement of corporate practices, simply can not be achieved without management buy-in and constant enthusiasm – if they aren’t there to lead and drive the change, the chances of success are severely limited.
An organization can’t implement universal, core work place and process changes without leadership and dedication; the project-based model demands it. Establishing expectations, supporting ownership of measurement and reporting, and rewarding change is essential to successful implementation of the PM model.
How well this is done are influenced by what are often called the ‘3 Axes of Continuous Improvement’; Culture, Organization, and Technology. These 3 axes form the basis for an organization’s establishment of the environment for effective project-based management. They also create the baseline for measuring performance improvement.
This is the way team members act and think – and those influences to their common behavior patterns and management styles. Their shared values, vision, attitudes and motivation. Some of the key objectives for improvement are:
- Remove any barriers in different functional areas, deal head-on with power groups, eliminate information retention, and encourage open communication and visibility
- Get past skepticism, deflate fatalism with enthusiasm, and constantly battle lack of rigor
- Promote a new shared vision, with objectives across functional teams
- Obtain and encourage operational staff involvement and participation
These are all of the project management processes: definitions, methodologies, and standards that establish the project organization – roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders and team members, and their procedures and decision making processes. Key objectives for improvement include:
- Establishing clear project/functional roles and responsibilities, especially in matrix organizations
- Elevate resource visibility: Necessary skills? Can we actually do this new project? Who’s going to be overloaded, if there’s resource competition? Can we afford that?
- Prioritize information sharing, tool availability for decision-maker measurement and impact analysis
- Leverage the culture to create a universal vocabulary and consistent management reporting processes for improved visibility and decision making
PM technical aspects include both the concepts and actual methods of managing time, resources and costs. These, together with the project data and information processing systems, can be improved by:
- PM concepts and method promotion throughout the organization
- Ensuring consistent and timely progress reporting
- Information and report data accuracy verification
- Incorporating and leveraging new and evolving IT
- Acknowledging and applying the discipline imposed by information systems
Get Help With Project-Based Business Implementation
The first place to look is in the mirror! While there are ample PM consulting organizations to choose from, it’s best to look for organizations that have similar business philosophies, an equal or better understanding of your industry, at least as many years of experience, and a sense of urgency. Look for these elements in a good project management consulting firm:
- Formalized engagement management procedures
- A proven project management methodology that can accommodate standards such as the Project Management Institute’s Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), APM or ISO guidelines to support 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 their own specific activities or deliverables. These include:
- Project Definition – existing business process assessment, measures project maturity, provides recommendations
- Implementation Planning – defines objectives, scope of work, individual roles and critical success factors
- System and Business Planning – educates project team on fundamental project management principles, defines application customization’s, and determines integration levels with existing business systems
- Pilot – compares system and processes with defined objectives, focused on knowledge transfer
- Roll-out – includes user education, leadership training, and Project Office establishment
International And Global Consistency
Business enterprise project management implementations are hardly ever at just one location, or even a single language or culture. Formalized methodologies and best practices play a key role in creating the standards and consistency necessary for multiple, decentralized offices to share information and knowledge in a consistent manner.