Businesses that can get good at delivering value through projects are likely to succeed. In today's world, with the pace of change in the marketplace, projects are a good strategy to quickly and effectively deliver the value you need to secure and sustain your customers. The better you are at delivering projects, the faster that value is delivered to market and the greater your competitiveness becomes. How can you ensure that your organization reaps these rewards? Follow these steps.
1. Call a Spade a Spade.
Find, recognize, and call out your projects. In many organizations it can be easy for projects to slip into an operational rhythm. The people managing the projects are just doing their assigned work. The resources contributing to those projects just view the project as their day to day routine. Nobody notices when a project starts or ends. No one knows when a project is delivered. Sound familiar?
A project is a discrete, time bound initiative that will deliver value to your organization.
Everything that has a beginning and an end date should be examined as to whether it should be called a project. In most cases it should. In addition to starting and stopping, it should be known why a project is starting, and what its outcome will be. If you know all of these things, the work should be called a project and will become part of your project revolution.
2. Establish Project Roles.
Team members who are contributing to the work you have now called projects should occupy known and understood roles. Fundamentally, there are three roles your organization needs to understand to authorize and execute projects effectively.
Know who occupies each role for each project. Look out for role overlaps and competing projects. Get these people together for each project. Help your project leads communicate with each other. Ensure that project sponsors are engaged and receiving regular reports about project progress.
3. Deliver with Consistency.
Once you know who your project teams are, and what projects they are executing, you can look for common pain points that, once addressed, will accelerate team effectiveness. Since projects operate inside of your organization, each organization will have areas that create project constraints. Here are some ideas about common places to start creating consistency.
4. Embrace Feedback.
Establish and promote an open project culture. Ensure project leads and team members are empowered to escalate concerns to engaged sponsors or through other channels. Help project teams identify and disclose risks. Evaluate and mitigate these risks together. Conduct consistent project retrospectives and document lessons learned alongside other project closeout documentation. Ensure lessons learned have a pathway to effect action on future projects.
5. Cultivate Expertise.
Grow, develop, hire, acquire, consult with and sustain project expertise. The people who will execute your projects the best are people who understand your projects the best, and people who can align with project vision. Help project teams that work well together perform projects together often. Over time, these teams can establish ad hoc practices that lay a powerful foundation for your organization's next steps in project maturity. Invest in valuable project team members and leaders by supporting formal project knowledge acquisition. Celebrate project teams that succeed and reward effective project delivery.
Creating a mature project organization takes time and effort but the rewards can be substantial. If the above steps seem like things your organization is already doing, watch for our posts on the next steps in project maturity for your organization including Processes and Playbooks.