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The last decade has seen a change in approaches to project management. One of the big disruptions is that agile project management (APM) methodologies have become mainstream – now used by 25% of global companies, according to the Project Management Institute’s 2021 study. “The Pulse of the Profession” Survey. The appeal of this more dynamic approach is that it (in theory) allows projects to iterate and innovate in real time without being bogged down by complex issues.
The problem with this practice is often that the overview and general objectives of a project are not always well defined from the start. Imagine trying to solve a problem when you don’t yet know what it is. This strategy would not work very well. What is required first is to define the problem, then firmly establish the requirements to solve it, and the project specifications will flow from there.
Another big shift is that corporate hierarchies and structures seem to be changing by the minute, thanks in part to the growing popularity of hybrid or fully remote setups. In turn, effective project management could embrace software-as-a-solution (SaaS) attributes that incorporate more outsourced and service-based approaches to project operations.
Whatever approach companies take, project management is invaluable to their prospects. The more it is aligned with a company’s overall aspirations, the better it works.
Related: My company almost died! The reason? My lack of project-Management skills
What disrupts effective project management?
To ensure the successful implementation of the best project management strategies, companies must avoid three main obstacles:
• Denial. The very definition of good management in this context is to resynchronize a plan so that it corresponds to reality. If you turn this on its head and just want reality to match the plan, you are continuing down the path of failure.
• Lack of investment in a project management office (PMO). Whether outsourced or in-house, investing in the right project management structure will have a high return on investment. Even companies that don’t have a dedicated center of excellence or PMO can still engage with external specialists to deliver and manage projects on their behalf, and management will need to commit to realizing that return. .
• Seek efficiency at the expense of success. Organizations that put efficiency on a pedestal often sacrifice the quality and integrity of a project. A recurring culprit of underdelivery is a technique called “crushing the schedule,” which expedites completion profitably but at the expense of product. Blowing budgets and deadlines isn’t ideal, but it may be necessary to provide a workable solution. A project that is 50% over budget but gets 100% of the required output will be much more effective than a project that is delivered on budget but gets no output.
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Overcome the obstacles
Now that we have established the main obstacles to effective project management, the question is how to overcome them.
1. Embrace the culture
Project management does not work in silos; it cuts horizontally in all departments. So there needs to be widespread top-down support – with a change management approach from top management to all teams for project management to improve operations.
Empathetic leaders go a long way in bringing about this kind of lasting change. At the start of the pandemic, for example, an India-based infrastructure company GMR Group used this extremely disruptive time to transition to digital project management solutions. According to GMR’s Vice President of Operations, Nirbhik Sengupta, the goal was to reduce waste, streamline employee processes, increase efficiency and make GMR less reliant on spreadsheets. All of these benefits have been discussed and approved with employees through effective awareness raising.
It is therefore essential to embed the link between business management and project management into the fabric of the culture. Maintaining effective and open communication is essential when working towards this type of effective management.
2. Have a roadmap to your future state
Organizational change management fare much better when a company has a solid understanding of its current capabilities and direction. To this end, organizations need to generate a Analysis/Vision/Roadmap to assess the current state of the business and plan future goals based on the changes needed to achieve those goals.
3. Focus on leadership
Leadership in project management is the most important aspect of creating change. A recent McKinsey study found that leadership can increase project performance by as much as 52.3%.
Effective project managers must be trusted leaders who are allowed to disrupt the current system when necessary to drive peak performance and worthwhile results. Leadership must also show investment by giving project managers the resources and support they need to steer the ship.
Related: 10 Project Management Hacks That Will Help New Project Managers Succeed
4. Create Lasting Engagement
When teams are responsible for a project from development to solution, they are more engaged. Again, according to McKinsey, the changes created by implementing project management are 25% more valuable when integrated into day-to-day operations. So look for ways to stay locked into a project for its entire duration. Talk to key stakeholders and experts to determine other requirements and where gaps might materialize. This way, business and project management goals can stay on the same page.
Done right, project management can transform a business, but determining its ideal approach is a highly individualized task. Applying these four steps will enable the implementation of a successful strategy that meets your unique needs.