If you’re a project manager, chances are your daily calendar is already filled from the moment you sit down at your desk to whatever time of day – or evening, most likely – you clock out. Many people at all levels of the enterprise rely heavily on you to have a solid grasp on all aspects of project management, including timing, status and direction of projects, at all times.
Since your time is limited and valuable, here are some specific areas where things have the potential to go drastically wrong if not sufficiently addressed, as well as some concrete, actionable ideas to ensure quality outcomes.
Plan for strategic alignment
In “How to align project management with your business strategy,” I emphasized the significance of ensuring that projects align with overall business goals, and why this is so important. If organizations are to spend substantial amounts of money, time, human resources and effort on a project, it should always support the forward-facing strategy of the business. Strategy should drive business activities, including projects, and not the other way around…otherwise the project is simply a pointless exercise. By ensuring strategic alignment, project managers can help organizations avoid ambiguous PMO direction, underutilized PMO resources, low company performance at a high cost, and declining project success rates. Alignment helps to establish a shared vision.
Tip 1. Project, program and portfolio managers hold powerful knowledge, skills and experience, and should discuss the benefits of setting up an EPMO (Enterprise Project Management Office) within the organization for the purpose of ensuring all areas of the business only initiate projects that provide the organization with benefits. These activities should be mapped directly to companywide strategic objectives.
Tip 2. Work with management to establish key performance indicators to communicate and measure what matters to the company.
Tip 3. At the end of each project for PMOs and senior executives should quantify the success rates of projects in relation to companywide objectives, and determine what changes may be required for future projects to keep the business moving in the right direction.
Plan to do appropriate and adequate project planning
The process of planning is by no means exciting or sexy, but it’s the most important part of project management. It takes a significant amount of time and energy to work through all the details and requirements in order to reduce the risk of rework and possible trouble later after a project has commenced. For this reason, it is said as much as 70 percent of a project manager’s time should be spent on the planning phase.