Back to the drawing board

Synopsis: Adoption of suitable project management practices in the workplace can yield benefits over time.

At a recent international sporting event, in between all the hype and excitement, the relaxed atmosphere allowed for a no-holes barred discussion to take place regarding office discontent. Two people employed in senior positions, IT and Marketing respectively deliberated on an issue that is not unfamiliar. “We (IT) built according their (marketing) needs and they okayed what we presented to them. It’s not been two weeks and they are saying that’s it’s not what they asked for. They don’t not even know what they want. I’m done letting my guys waste more time on that project.”

This is a classic example of the disconnect that exists, resulting in wasted resources, deliverables suffer in quality, escalating problems that creates an unhappy workforce. The “he said she said” phenomenon takes precedence over finding and analyzing the root causes of the problem. Organizations that adopt project management methodologies suitable their environment tend to avoid common misunderstandings on project intent and are in much better shape to capitalize on the project investment.

What can organizations gain from adopting and applying Project Management methodologies in the workplace:

  1. Maintain awareness that the organization is serious about the value proposition from successful project delivery.
  2. Common understanding on what the project intends to deliver, supported by a dedicated plan on how to get there.
  3. Improved collaboration and consensus ensuring all departments are pulling in the same direction.
  4. Establish protocols for identifying and gathering requirements, identifying managing risk, managing and approval of variances, and development of contingency plans.
  5. Gain an understanding of project complexity and develop baselines accordingly.
  6. Prepare and maintain project plans, assign roles and source commitment from people to execute the plan that had no part in developing the plan.
  7. Documenting project experiences and ensuring project documents are kept safe.

Corporate values remain the unsung heroes and the most underrated visible drivers of success. Many organizations fall short of tying-in projects, roles and responsibilities to enhance corporate values. These remain nicely framed words hanging in the corridors and reflected on corporate websites.

How does project management tie into corporate values:

  1. Transparency – Document true reflection of project status and demonstrate transparency in decision-making.
  2. Accountability – Adhere to professional and ethical conduct.
  3. Growth – Reduce waste and manage resources efficiently
  4. Customer Satisfaction – Satisfy project intent and ensure benefits are attained
  5. Employee Satisfaction – Decentralize decision-making and encourage ownership

Project leaders more than often fall short of connecting the dots for project teams. Certainty and clarity suffer because the bigger picture is not understood and miscommunicated. As a result, the ability to connect with and energize people to advance the project objectives falls short and a clear plan for how to reach project objectives is absent. The outcome resulting in a scenario described at the beginning. Organizations need to be proactive and create opportunities for employees to acquire project management knowledge and skills. Capacity building and implementation of project management practices is an enabler for successful delivery of projects.

Most common objections to project management practices:

  1. Preserve status quo
  2. We don’t have time
  3. Executive inexperience to assume project sponsor roles
  4. That’s just bureaucracy for the sake of bureaucracy
  5. It’s too restrictive, we need to maintain flexibility and agility
  6. Reluctance to project management capacity building
  7. Staff turnover – Fear to loose staff once training is acquired

Reports on budget loss due to poor project performance suggest that high performing organizations typically waste 28 times less that lower performing organizations. PM World Journal contributor Dr. Donald Agumenu argues that shortage of people with requisite project handling capacity supersedes lack of resources as grounds for poor handling of projects and project failure. Barriers that hamper adoption and implementation of project management practices are not physical in nature. To overcome these barriers and become unstuck requires a willingness within organizations to acknowledge that project management, if embraced, is an important resource to create value through which benefits are realized.

Reference: Dr. Agumenu, D. C. (2017, February). Effective Project Management and Leadership in Political Governance. PM World Journal, VI(II), 1.