Project Delivery Environment
To guarantee project delivery success in today’s environment, a company or enterprise must recognize and embrace the need for Project Management Software, provides an environment for project management excellence including tools, training, and support. It also utilizes best of breed project management software as well as techniques to ensure success.
The Project Management Environment
While we recognize the role of the Project Manager (even the functional manager or others in the project management role), we might not understand the function of project management, the skills needed, and the environment of successful project management.
Some of the Key Things a project manager must do:
- Identify key stakeholders, discover their definition of project success and their communications needs
- Gather and motivate key resources as project team members
- Manage and clarify roles, responsibilities, expectations, and delegation levels
- Act as a manager, catalyst, instructor, coach, mentor; and when necessary, be a devil’s advocate
- Promote and be the catalyst for effective communication
- Provide participative leadership in decision making
- Balance project objectives with other corporate objectives
- Balance the needs of the project, the client, and the organization
- Discover, clarify, and manage project tasks, issues, risks, costs, conflicts, and changes
- Clearly identify and communicate task, phase, project, and program completion
- Create, collaborate on, complete, and effectively communicate necessary documentation
Just because a person is highly skilled in their functional area does not automatically mean they will have the skills and temperament for project management. Some of the skills can be learned, but many important qualifications are embedded in a person’s personality such as patience, attention for details, and the passion for project completion. The best project managers have the innate drive and skills to lead a team to accomplish goals. The successful project management candidate must have experience in technical areas, personnel management, cost management, change management, communication, documentation, and completed staff work. They must be able to operate in a fast-paced environment and have the ability to communicate on all levels.
Unless we recognize project management as a distinct discipline, requiring a special set of skills, capabilities, and tools; we cannot expect to implement a successful project management function in the enterprise. Until we recognize that these skills must be located in a structured function, with dedicated and empowered leadership, any project management skills that are available will struggle like a ship without a rudder.
The Recognition of Project Management as a Specialized Skill:
In organizations, functional managers, senior analysts, architects, and senior technical leaders are also designated as Project Managers, assuming they have the capability and capacity to undertake the role of work manager, resource manager and project manager. This view overlooks several potential conditions:
- Project management skills are weak or non-existent especially in personnel management, change management, issues management, risk management, or cost management. The new project manager’s focus has been on the development of technical skills, not managerial skills.
- The new project managers view themselves as a technical leader and concentrate on management of the technical content of the work. The measurements (and rewards) may be more aligned with technical success and management of resources (which are more easily and visibly measured than project success) rather than on alignment of business objectives.
- The new project manager is embedded in and aligned with a functional unit, while project work crosses functional boundaries. It is difficult to eliminate or overcome biases, or for the new project manager to persuade other functions to put aside high priority work for their projects.
Project Management is a specialized discipline, just as Quality Assurance, Business/Systems Analysis, and Technical Delivery are specialized disciplines. A prudent technical manager would not allow the Systems Analyst to be lead architect for the solution, why would they allow the same person to be project manager for the solution? The specialized technical skills needed for project success are no less important than the need for specialized project management skills.
The implementation of project management capability involves five key areas of focus:
- Identity – creating job descriptions that include training needs and a training progression along with certification, coaching and mentoring
- Project Management Practice – including a methodology or process incorporating standardized templates, toolkits, and a collaborative workspace for project personnel
- Tools – selected to meet the greatest number of needs from all project teams following industry recognized best practices
- Implementation – once that you have identified the previous three items, you must implement them company or enterprise-wide
- Review or Audit – inspect what you expect and make necessary changes.
Because Project Management Software is a specialized skill area and we want the right person with the right skills to be able to actually plan and deliver projects on time and within budget, companies need to start hiring and developing the project management specialist.