Project management and the information & communications technology (ICT) industry go together like jam and toast. But not all project management is good project management.
Fostering a culture in which improvement becomes an inherent, continuous process can pay off quickly as this mindset not only can help raise individual project and programme performance, but can also contribute to the overall bottom line. Essential best practices can enhance your approach to ensure more success throughout the entire project lifecycle.
As with many things, performance improvement starts at the top.
Educate the executives
While management may have a vague understanding of what ICT project managers do every day, they may not recognise mature project management from the approach in its infancy. Educating executive management about what project management maturity looks like and how it can benefit the business by providing value to the customer and better return on investment (ROI) will ensure the likelihood of C-suite buy-in when you need it most.
Once you’ve secured executive buy-in, the next step is to seek funding for those project management improvements that add value, such as better, more applicable training solutions. Sustained learning comes not only from well-supported training efforts, but also from post-assessment guidance that can ultimately raise your ROI long-term. Make the business case for continuous learning in your organisation by demonstrating that a well-trained project manager is indeed a better one.
Attract, develop and retain the right talent
Even the best-laid plans can go astray without the right people in the right jobs. To attract the best talent, provide interesting career development opportunities for skills enhancement. According to a recent ComputerWeekly study, four out of five IT professionals say they would have to leave their current job to advance in their careers. Make it easier for the good ones to stay.
Be realistic when goal-setting
Clearly, project management maturity is a long-term goal. According to ESI International’s annual PMO survey, only one in five project/programme management (PM) offices uses portfolio management, a key indicator for project management maturity. Being realistic when setting improvement targets can help manage expectations on all levels of the organisation.
The challenge is most companies do not employ any kind of maturity model to understand their level of PM maturity. In fact, maturity development is rarely linked formally to company strategy. But how does one know whether the company is working on the right initiatives without it? Using effective modelling, appropriate maturity initiatives can be instigated based on business priorities and budget. The key is to select specific initiatives that will incrementally enhance maturity and deliver quick wins.
Harmonise your resources
While your organisation may have a lot of resources, it takes savvy to strike the right balance among them. Take into consideration your current talent, tools, systems and processes within the entire organisation when creating your project management improvement plan. Which ones still serve the business? Which ones can be eliminated? Streamlining your business to match capabilities with business goals can help cut costs while raising productivity.
Project management is definitely one way to get there faster.
Ian Templeton, OPM3, PgMP, PMP, MSP(adv,) PRINCE2 MCMI, is the head of the Project & Programme Management Centre of Excellence at Orange Business Services.
This was first published in January 2012