At a glance
It is best to understand project management culture as a synthesis of different facets of culture. Project-oriented culture can also have unintended consequences. The downsides can be avoided through a multi-pronged approach.
This is the first article in the three-part series on ‘Project Management Culture’.
Yours is an IT services company or a company that delivers projects to its customers. When you heard of the dictum ‘ let us build project management culture’ what did you think?
“They talk about the culture of innovation. Then, sometimes they say -let’s have a collaborative culture. They say let’s be customer-centric. There comes the talk of ‘continuous improvement’. There is also a need for a ‘result-oriented culture’.”
“But in reality, we have a hierarchical culture .”
if such thoughts cross your minds, you are not the one who should be blamed. All the above requirements are valid but each one of them focuses on just one, though vital, facet of the project culture one needs to build.
On the other hand, when you say let’s build a project management culture, you should be serious about your mission – your organization should excel in delivering projects. You need all the above for doing a great job of delivering projects.
What benefits will you reap by undertaking such a complex task? Are there any downsides?
Execution of projects is inherently risky. If you are ready, the customer may not be ready. The customer may change the requirements mid-way. You may have overlooked or underestimated the complexity of some tasks.
Your key people aren’t available. The time overruns can also mean that your costs like -salaries, and material costs have gone up due to inflation.
The only certain thing is that your costs go up all the time. Even in the case of time and material type of projects, you may not be able to compensate for the increased costs with additional revenues.
You have to be really good in all aspects of managing projects just to protect your profits!
Who wouldn’t want that? Project execution is risky, so why shouldn’t the rewards be higher? Project execution can involve unforeseen problems, these also can be your opportunities! You can legitimately charge for extra deliverables that are not in the scope of the contract. You can enjoy a price premium if you have a good reputation.
A project management culture can enhance your profits by enabling the above actions.
Being a partner of choice
If you keep succeeding in your mission to deliver projects on time, within their budgets, and with excellent quality, you won’t have a mere transactional relationship with your customers. You will be a partner of their choice.
Attracting and retaining talent
Who wouldn’t want to be on a team that delivers projects well? Who would want to miss the satisfaction of doing a good job that helps in making a big difference to your customers? Who would want to miss the high-octane excitement that comes while working with talented people who thrive on accepting challenges, solving problems, and meeting deadlines?
Talented people leave because their good work doesn’t seem to make much difference. Building a project management culture is the best and most sustainable way of attracting and retaining talent.
What are the downsides? How can you avoid them?
An organization focused on delivering projects can develop habits of short-termism. People may avoid efforts needed for documentation other than the minimal needs stipulated by respective contracts.
The need for teamwork may dictate that people cover each other which is a good thing but it means that people may remain underdeveloped in some areas.
The way you build a project management culture holds a key to avoiding the downsides. We shall discuss this in our forthcoming articles.
Do you have a project management culture?
Now that you agree on the need for a project management culture, how do you find out where exactly you are and how to build what is not there? Will your project management software ensure that you have the desired culture?
The upcoming articles in this series will answer these questions.
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