While there is certainly value in the efficiencies of repeatable process, common lexicon and familiar tools, unfortunately process often replaces creativity, critical thinking and the entrepreneurial spirit of an organisation, as team members become checklist drones.
When we speak of specific methodologies, a lot of managers lean on some turn-key processes/tools without regard for the skills, personalities and project portfolio of the team.
This can lead to increased spending on tools and the higher costs of hiring certified project leaders, without the return on investment that organisations were hoping for.
The following is what organisations therefore need to do in order to implement a project delivery that drives results and contributes to a company’s competitive advantage:
Define one’s purpose
Every company, team, initiative needs to have a purpose and the PMO is no different.
Is it more of an administrative office to ensure project documents/artifacts are completed and archived appropriately or license and quality assurance processes are completed?
Is it designed primarily to ensure the business case makes sense, resources/investments fit the business case and track the various financials throughout the project?
Or is it responsible for challenging the business case, pushing the organisation and working across all functions of the business, looking to change the industry in which they operate?
Be honest with yourself
If you are going to implement a successful project methodology, then you must take stock of the talent on your team, understand how your team works/communicates with one another and other functions of the organisation and what the perceived value of project management is across the organisation.
For example, trying to implement a CMMI level 5 process in a startup or at a creative firm is going to be difficult. And attempting to implement a ‘social’ process that requires near real-time collaboration and flexibility with legal or accounting is going to flop.
You need to match the process, development and roll-out of that process to meet the personalities, knowledge/skill and flow of your organisation.
Implement a framework… not a methodology
The process/methodology/framework must provide guideposts to operate within, as well as empower the project manager and their team to get the work done in a manner that truly taps into the skills and talents of the team members.
Arm the team
Once you know what the team’s mission is, you have identified the ‘profile’ of your organisation and identified a framework for them to work within, don’t leave them in the field without tools to execute.
There are some great open source tools out there but these often come with less support and require some level of tech competency to ‘make it your own.’
If you are a software dev. firm this isn’t an issue but if you have finance and marketing on your project teams, this could set you up for disaster. Do some research, ask for a few test accounts and get your team an effective toolset to work with.
A few key items should include: anywhere access to documents and project schedules, a collaboration platform vs. static email, web-conferencing tools and risk and change management.
A platform that can combine all these features (with financials AND resource management) would be a great tool for the team.
Evangelize project management
Executive support of the framework, tools and talent coming from the project team is imperative to successfully implementing a project methodology.
The project manager is your expert, but the organisation must understand the mission of the team and why this function is important to the greater success of the organisation.
Executives should be able to explain the basic framework and common themes/terms used, in order to drive adoption across the organisation.
All the templates and tools in the world won’t help if the company doesn’t realize the importance.
Educate and promote
Some of the key benefits of a repeatable process include rapid assimilation of new employees, measurable performance and identifying areas for improvement.
Companies must continue to develop their project leaders’ technical, business and leadership acumen.
Lastly, the organisation will see the benefits as more and more projects run through the team/function and these wins/improvements must be promoted throughout the organisation.
When projects impact cost savings, increase in market share and so on, then those wins need to be shared and attributed to the project function.
There was a time when folks looked at joining a new project as a career booster and organisations need to get that excitement back.
Organisation awareness, end-user adoption and executive support are all key to any project’s success and this initiative won’t be any different.
Consider these suggestions prior to starting the tactical implementation of a new methodology in your organisation.