Here at Ten Six we help organizations implement project management systems and tools all the time. Some companies feel the need to take on more than they should. This could be because of lack of experience, capability or, more commonly, funding. It also could be due to the original business plan not addressing all of the issues and challenges, underestimating what’s involved or not outlining the business benefits in a compelling enough way to justify appropriate funding.
Whatever the reasons, here’s a look at some of the common observations we see in organizations when implementing project management.
Project Management Maturity
The lower the organization is on the project management maturity scale, the more they typically underestimate how to implement in order to get the desired results. Implementation plans are reduced to installing and training end users in software tools and often encompass minimum process development or address end user adoption. This often leads them on a protracted journey to the end goal, encountering many bumps in the road along the way.
Proactive Management Involvement
While active participation from senior management can make or break an implementation, it’s more common to see the mandate to implement without this proactive support. After all, if senior management are writing the check, isn’t that a demonstration of their commitment?
Executives have to be involved at a much more detailed level than they would like as well as communicate a vision for the organization. This has to be clear and trickle down though middle management avoiding the usual politics that can sabotage or derail the implementation. Resistance to change is to be expected and needs to be addressed in a clear and non-passive way.
And, because each organization has its own unique industry challenges, characteristics, structure and culture, a one size fits all approach is not the best way forward. Executive-level understanding and buy-in together with proactive support can come with challenges of their own. But again, the benefits of their involvement will outweigh this concern and help enormously.
Software, Software Software
Yes, the tools you use are important. If you think of tools, process and culture as the three key areas to address in an implementation, you should address them in the reverse order. People first, then process and finally tools. It’s all too easy to get hung up on which tool to buy that the other two areas get sidelined.
Also, a common misnomer is to think that the tool will help solve process and people issues. Another point is that by addressing tools first, you can burn though funds that are allocated for implementation support, process development, training and mentoring. This starts short-changing what are the more critical element of an implementation.
Capability and Capacity
The team driving the implementation often has more project management maturity than the rest of the organization and can underestimate where they really are in terms of capability. This results in overly optimistic views of situations that end up taking more time, effort and money to resolve. Organizations must ensure that adequate money to implement project management is available. They must also understand their capabilities and capacity.
We all know that we shouldn’t implement project management in one bog bang approach. But you’d be surprised how many times this is still attempted, often driven by the tool implementation. An incremental approach has been proven to be far more effective. A couple of the most common approaches include:
- Deploying by department or area – Piloting in one department or area first
- Evolutionary deployment – Releasing features or capabilities incrementally
Either way, a phased approach that is paced with the organizations capacity to absorb the new capabilities and change works well.
There’s no doubt that the business benefits when organizations implement project management practices supported by tools and process, yields results. It can also be a competitive differentiator and position the organization to outperform their industry peers. It can also put them on a path of continuous improvement, delivering even more value over time!