Project Management: Getting Your Team On Board

 
 
By Michelle LaBrosse  |  Posted 2009-06-01
 
 
 

You may know how imperative project management is to every assignment—from concept to completion—but the people you manage may not feel the same way. So start building some buzz around PM.

First, you must clearly communicate what project management is and how it helps in terms that everyone can understand. You need to impassion your team and build excitement about the PM process.

Project management boosts productivity and can ultimately generate triple-digit ROI. If you need to sell your team on PM, ROI is a good way to do it. That’s critical because the key to successful PM is building a standardized system that embeds best practices in how you manage your projects. If only one or two people are following standard PM procedures, your project is going to have a few broken wheels.

In its Chaos Report, The Standish Group conservatively estimates that 20 percent of money spent on projects is wasted because companies don’t take a consistent approach to PM. Other research has shown that PM improvement initiatives increase project performance by up to 50 percent for the first project and can continue for each new project if the enterprise offers ongoing support with PM tools.

Those statistics usually get people interested. Once you have their interest, make PM accessible. If it’s overcomplicated, people will go back to doing things their own way. Here are the five phases of a project that you want everyone on your team to follow:

Initiation: During initiation, organizations have to prioritize the projects they will pursue and then identify who will sponsor and staff those projects.

Planning: Once an organization decides to pursue a project, the project manager and the PM team work together to develop plans for creating the final deliverables.

Execution: The project team works to create the final deliverables of the project. This is the largest part of most projects, and it goes far better if adequate time was taken up-front to properly plan the work.

Control: This phase is coordinated with execution to ensure that the project is progressing as planned, to account for any changes, and to make midcourse corrections that are needed to keep the project on schedule and within budget.

Closeout: The final deliverable is accepted by the customer of the project, and the project team documents what it learned that could be of value on the next project.

PM Can Increase Value

The problem in most companies is that there is no set process for handling projects effectively and efficiently, which can lead to lost time, inconsistency and poor performance. But PM has the power to transform your business by building a process, tracking performance and helping you build best practices that work for your company.

Here are five ways in which well-planned project management can transform organizations:

1. Develops exponential effectiveness. In most organizations, people work on cross-functional teams to complete projects. When individuals from different departments understand and follow a common PM process, they can work together without having to design how they are going to do things.

2. Empowers individuals and team leaders. When there is a common, simple approach to PM and the correct tools are available throughout the enterprise, people are empowered to reach their goals—both together and individually.

3. Creates institutional memory.Industry-standard PM practices require a critical project closeout phase that collects the lessons learned and gives your organization powerful historical knowledge from throughout the enterprise.

4. Realizes ROI. An easy-to-use PM methodology gives organizations a framework that allows people to move from vision to action with a comprehensive plan that supports their objectives.

5. Turns information into insight. Capture best practices and know what is and isn’t working. That will give you a competitive advantage.

After understanding what project management can do, the next step is to follow this checklist:

  • Know the business drivers and ROI for adopting an enterprisewide approach to PM.
  • Use a simple, proven approach to align the efforts of project teams.
  • Have people at every level of the organization learn the skills needed to effectively use PM to improve their value to the organization.
  • Get big wins early on by leading with parts of the organization that appear the least skilled in PM and have the most to gain by using a simple PM approach.
  • Select a portfolio of projects that meet the organization’s strategic objectives.
  • Standardize on a simple, straightforward approach that all project participants can use.
  • Empower people with the right tools. These include a simple, effective tool for project scheduling and tracking, along with a tool to measure the effectiveness of your project managers.

The key to successful project management is to get teams on board, give them the right tools and training, and follow best practices. It’s about using PM controls to simplify the decision-making process and streamline workloads, while putting your most important resources (your people) to work.

So find your megaphone—whether it’s e-mail or a conference room—and get your organization tuned in to the power of project management. Your bottom line will thank you.

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, is the founder of Cheetah Learning and the author of Cheetah Negotiations and Cheetah Project Management. The Project Management Institute selected her as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the World. LaBrosse’s articles have appeared in more than 100 publications, and her monthly column, “The Know How Network,” is carried by about 400 publications.