The modern business environment is evolving to recognize the importance of strategic projects, meaning traditional project management techniques are no longer sufficient to achieve the growth and business transformation that these strategic projects demand.
The need for performance improvement, with particular focus on the soft skills including leadership, communication and strategic decision-making, has never been more vital for achieving bottom-line results.
Strategic project leaders now need to effectively manage talent against the strategic demands and requirements in order to drive success.
This requires a new way of thinking, communicating and working. PMOs and project leaders must understand and relate their efforts to the executive leadership’s strategic goals.
Developing strategically adept project managers across all areas of the business will not only result in business gains but will also increase productivity. As well as that, ensuring project teams have the necessary tools to better execute the strategy will establish a culture that attracts, develops and retains top talent.
How to get there
In order to upskill it is crucial to first assess your team’s current skills and the available resources for change and performance improvement.
This can be achieved with a professional development programme that meets business and requirements, as well as individual needs. In other words, one that enables the project workforce to meet the business requirements and also helps individual employees with their personal growth expectations and goals.
A business case for training will therefore needs to be based on planned business-performance improvement. Factors for approval fall into the following two categories:
|Organisational factors||Situational factors|
|Economic and business environment||Business unit plan, performance history and trends|
|Outlook for growth, new strategic initiatives||Direct and shared resources and budget|
|Leadership’s experience and belief in project and change management||Operating and productivity constraints|
|Proof of results and value from internal lines of business or from known competitors||L&D plan and resources (if any)|
|Training and professional development climate, resource availability and opportunity||Knowledge, understanding and current use of relational skills|
|Prominence of project management skills and capabilities in competency frameworks||Factors and forecasts prompting increased need for strategically aligned projects|
|The teams that can help build a business case including HR, finance, L&D and procurement||Team environment and climate for performance improvement, L&D, change etc.|
|Measurement plan and targets|
|Forecast of financial, operational and other business benefits that could arise from training|
While building the business case, an evaluation of current roles and responsibilities can be made, looking out for any aptitude and interest in leadership development from those who show the following:
- Exude enthusiasm and take initiative
- Revel in detail but tolerate ambiguity
- Accept responsibility and accountability
- Adapt quickly
- Think big-picture and collaborate
- Believe in philosophies like quality and continuous improvement for the organisation as we as themselves
While identifying an individuals’ desire for training and commitment to professional growth is important, a skills development plan has to be considered in relation to the team and its ability to improve business performance.
The right training will help project leaders and managers gain increased business understanding, establish a presence across the organisation and deliver project results aligned to key strategies.
No developmental improvements will be able to happen without there being in place an enterprise culture and executive leadership that values project-based work and wants to invest in performance improvement for project leaders and teams.
For this reason, and to demonstrate the project management benefits across all initiatives, organisations need to expand on the metrics they use to measure the value of the project results.
Metrics that go beyond the traditional target parameters of time, budget, scope and overall Return on Investment (ROI) need to be measured – in other words the Value of Investment (VOI).
This covers all the business aspects that strategic project leadership improves, including product service time to market, marketing campaigns, legal processes, customer satisfaction and employee engagement.
It’s also important to measure employee satisfaction, loyalty, retention and newly structured career paths for those with project management training.
In doing so, business-unit and department leaders who leverage strategic project leadership for their initiatives will be able to position their teams to advance organisational priorities and achieve business goals faster.
For more on how strategic project leadership training drives business success, read: Is Your Talent Equipped to Achieve Goals?