Project Management: A Core Competency for Managers in today’s world

Many organizational managers may not realize it but much of what occupies their day to day business tasks is actually ‘project management‘.

According to the bible of project management (PMBOK®: Project Management Body of Knowledge) the definition of a ‘Project’ is: “A temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service or result”. Based on this definition could not all of the one off tasks Managers frequently perform be considered “projects”?

The important fact which is not always realised is that managing a project is VERY different to managing a routine repetitive operation.

In the business publication, Creating the Project Office: A Manager’s Guide to Leading Organisational Change, authors Randall Englund, Robert Graham and Paul Dinsmore, claim there has been a fundamental shift to project type work for all managers. “Changes in the environment, changes in customer expectations and changes in technology used in organisational processes have brought many organisations to the point where up to 80 per cent of their work is project work rather than repeat process work.”

These days all managers are involved in doing projects whether they like it or not, and if you want to be successful, having basic up to date project skills will be a big help. The impact and pain of badly run projects can be huge to any organization. Unsatisfied customers, cost blowouts, missed deadlines, lost opportunities, wasted resources, and if this is not enough, add to it the impact on morale and motivation.

The important principles of project management are quite simple and apply equally to big and small projects. All organizational managers should get to know these principles, not just the so called specialist ‘project managers’.

In our experience there are FIVE key pillars which lay the foundation for project success:

1. Project Manager (PM) – Get the right PM. This is a key role on any project and putting the right person is place is critical.

2. Planning – You’ve got to spend quality time planning with the right people. Don’t ask insist!

3. Team – Having the right people in the project team is everything.

4. Governance – It’s very important you establish the right organization structure for the project (with clearly defined roles & responsibilities). This is not just the PM and the team it’s needs to include executive & senior management.

5. Methodology – Projects vary greatly and it’s very important you use a “suitable” framework/methodology which fits the characteristics of the project being done. Building a bridge is very different to implementing a new piece of software.

Of all of these pillars the MOST important one is possibly putting the right PM or project leader in place. If we get this right a lot of the other pillars should automatically follow.

Take time to reflect on your own projects or organization and define areas where you need to invest greater time to improve in each of these five pillars of project success.

Can you afford not to?

By Stephen Dowling – ETM Management Training