Understanding The Value Of Project Management

 

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As today’s organizations seek to expend more of their effort in the form of projects, there is an increasing need to better understand how project management can add value. The value of effective project management comes from having standardized processes and comprehensive systems which ensure that goals and objectives are successfully met for the benefit of the organization.

Achieving these goals would also depend on a number of other factors, including the development of a deeper understanding of the project environment, levels of organizational effectiveness, budgeting and planning frameworks, having the full support of senior leadership and stakeholders, having the right culture and values, the size and complexity of the projects being undertaken, and having the right people with the requisite skills, attitudes, and experience.

Having reflected on our various project experiences over the past year, we recognized that a few senior leaders within organizations repeatedly complained about the inability of project managers to deliver value. Whilst this may be true in rare instances, it is believed that they have completely missed the point of project management. It is firstly a team effort, which requires an enabling environment and the institution of processes and systems which underpins a project’s success. It also looks at how well risk and uncertainty is managed prior to and during implementation.  

Of those who complained, it was observed that their organizations did not embrace a culture of project management or excellence, for that matter. Many of its personnel did not understand how projects were ran and meant to bring about beneficial change, for either the organization or its clients. It was clearly understood however, that when projects failed or did not meet its objectives, cash flows and profitability were adversely affected. In spite of this, attitudes remained largely unchanged and finger pointing quite prevalent. It was further recognized that; 

  • There was a lack of focused leadership, clear sighting of desired outcomes, and systems which would drive the achievement of strategic goals and objectives.
  • The planning required ahead of project implementation was often not done, perceived to be too much or a waste of valuable time.
  • Projects were being completed late, over-budget, and failed to meet the client’s functional or design requirements.
  • The old way of doing things was strongly valued as it brought the organization its success in the past. There was very little appreciation for the change that was required when projects, people, processes, and the wider environment continued to evolve.
  • They lacked consistency, standardization, and synergy across all functional departments. Groups operated within their respective silos, with minimal information sharing, collaboration, and understanding of the company’s overarching goals.
  • Where projects would have been “successfully” completed, resources were often overworked and stretched often at the detriment of cost, quality, safety, client satisfaction, quality of life, and other projects. 

Project management recognizes that in order for any project to be of real value, it must cost less than the value of its benefits. Accordingly, all costs and resources need to be effectively managed. There is also a time value associated with the benefit from the asset delivered by the project. It holds therefore that if a project is delivered late, its value will be also be less. So, all efforts must be managed in a way that maximizes the desired benefit. Project management embraces the application of processes, methods, knowledge, skills, and experience to achieve desired benefits, outcomes, and objectives.

It is at the executive level of organizations where project efforts can be more closely aligned to and driven by a strategy that when deployed across the entire organization, guides all operations and implementation at every level, bringing about significant and sustainable value with every step. Results can be measured and corrective actions taken to overcome any shortcomings. The establishment of project management processes and systems have also been proven to help organizations create a source of competitive advantage, as the ability to deliver projects on time, within budget, and to the client’s satisfaction have helped to raise reputations and chances of securing their next jobs. 

Looking at the year ahead and amidst concerns over another economic downturn, there are excellent opportunities for our clients and their organizations to embrace sound project management strategies and principles which promote economic success and sustainability. Such strategies are an excellent way to help control wastage, refocus efforts, control spending, reduce risks, improve project results across the board, and deliver value. Consider then;

  • Building the right culture and operating environment for your organization. With strong and focused leadership, the right values, thinking systems, and principles can be built into the organization. Matched with clearly defined roles and responsibilities, established channels of communication, and systems of accountability, people can be developed with a clear understanding and appreciation of how they contribute to not only the success of a project, but the organization as a whole - thereby improving morale, levels of involvement, productivity, and ownership over time.
  • Investing more time in planning. Critical to the success of any project or initiative, planning establishes the core foundations needed and takes into consideration all aspects of stakeholder engagement, risk assessment, and the scheduling of tasks and activities.
  • Developing your talent. Through continuous technical and management training, knowledge transfer, and corporate mentoring programmes, you can demonstrate commitment to your people, create opportunities for growth and development, and vastly improve the quality of your workforce.
  • Improving alignment. Where projects have become the primary tool for implementing the strategy of your organization, projects need to be more closely aligned, thus requiring highly coordinated effort. This process helps to balance threats and opportunities and provide a better utilization of resources. Where applicable, review and terminate projects that will not produce or bring about the desired benefits or value.
  • Becoming more proactive. By developing and instituting processes and systems which are aligned with the culture, capabilities, and competences of the organization, project related costs, goals, deliverables, tasks, risks, issues, and deadlines can be better defined, communicated, and managed – ultimately saving time, effort, energy, wastage, and unwanted expenses.
  • Completing projects on time and within budget. With clearly defined scopes of work, client requirements, and definitions, project estimates and budgets can be significantly improved. Costs should be continually tracked and analysed, ensuring better control and decision making. Time is a unique, non-renewable resource that is an essential component for the successful completion of any project. Scheduling, monitoring, controlling, reporting, and effective decision-making on changes and issues which can impact implementation is key. 

As organizations seek to drive superior results and value, it should be appreciated that success requires the combined effort of the organization led by focused and committed leadership, matched by well-defined and disciplined project management processes and systems, and underpinned by the right resources; and not solely, the efforts of one individual. This is where the value resides.