Only if a project can stand up to scrutiny against the business goals will it be in with a chance – given the importance of aligning projects and programmes with organisational strategy to drive success.
Business leaders must consider organisational priorities when making investment decisions about which projects to green light, and the significance of project-based work facilitating business growth means that organisations now have to broaden the scope of its workforce.
Today’s project managers need skills in leadership, strategy and business management, and all project team members need to adapt in the following ways if they are to keep up with the changing face of project management:
1. Zoom Out
As projects evolve to be much more than managing scope, schedule and budget, project-based workers need to reach solutions faster, have a stronger and more direct business impact as well as understand how to implement organisational change through project management.
To achieve this they need to zoom out from the minute detail to see the bigger picture.
By doing this, project managers will be able to see how one project affects the other. This will also allow them to successfully recognise and respond to any misalignment between the business strategy and the project execution, as well as mitigate risks before they escalate.
2. Encourage Open Dialogue
Project teams need to ensure that they engage with all stakeholders – particularly end-users and internal customers – in open dialogue.
Project success is tied directly to customer satisfaction, making it imperative to gather the full requirements – the big picture – from the beginning.
Traditional approaches to requirements gathering has often been disconnected from the bigger picture – particularly if focus was only on the technical requirements.
Allowing users the freedom to speak their mind throughout the lifecycle of the project can make a huge difference to what information is collected.
By encouraging and facilitating open dialogue, the true meaning of success for the end-user can be ascertained, allowing the project manager to explain the positive impact their work will make.
Giving people a platform where their concerns are addressed will also help alleviate any negativity associated with a project and make people more receptive to change.
3. Re-set the Boundaries
The boundaries that traditionally define the life of a project have expanded so that it’s no longer enough to see a project through to its implementation and call it a day.
Success of a project is very often dependent upon the adoption and satisfaction of end-users. Given that most major business initiatives result in change, project-based workers need to take these changes – and the emotions these can bring to the surface for the end-user – into account.
Leadership skills as well as relational and communication are therefore essential if a project manager is to gain trust, and in doing so, ensure organisational change resulting from project-based work is successful.
Failing to manage change properly can have severe consequences, which is why forward-thinking companies now have teams that focus exclusively on organisational-change management, with the role of Chief Change Officer (CCO) set to become more prevalent as this trend continues.
4. More Visibility
Executive sponsors, the de-facto owners of the project initiatives, are taking a more active role as stakeholders and end users become more integrated in project delivery and projects get aligned to strategy.
Given their responsibility for the outcomes, executive sponsor engagement is crucial to project success. More active involvement is now seen as a necessary solution to high project failure numbers. According to the Project Management Institute’s (PMI’s) Pulse of the Profession 2016 study, when more than 80% of projects have executive support, more than 65% more projects are successful.
The ascent of project management is evidenced by more organisations giving project leaders a seat at the executive table.
With this new exposure to senior management, it is even more critical that project-based workers have the leadership, strategy and business skills in order to be able to interact on a higher level.
5. Be Measured
New ways to measure success are needed in order to keep track of the overall health and well-being of the project.
To measure project health effectively, there should be more insight into the possible difficulties or risks, such as meaningful metrics that cover lifecycle statement (schedule, scope and cost), project health and the path to resolution.
These three components and accompanying data are what executives want to hear about.
Project-based workers who can provide a project status report on these terms will be more likely to benefit from recognition leading to further opportunities for advancement.
All the above have one thing in common – specific skills that are required to meet the demands of this shifting landscape.
Skills in leadership, strategy and business management that were not traditionally associated with project-based work but are now becoming increasingly hard to ignore.
For more on how strategic project leadership training drives business success, read: Is Your Talent Equipped to Achieve Goals?