Raising overall organizational project management capability is critical to improving the predictability of project outcomes.
When most companies look to improve project delivery, the normal starting point focuses on elevating the capabilities of project managers through improved hiring practices, formal training and coaching.
No project manager is able to ensure project success solely based on their own efforts, so the role of the project sponsor is usually tackled next. Clear definitions of the expectations of a sponsor, addressing the common issue of sponsors with insufficient capacity to perform the role effectively, and sponsor onboarding programs are developed and deployed.
But can we confidently declare “Mission Accomplished!” after this? What about everyone else that is involved in project work?
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and if key stakeholders involved in project delivery are not also capable, committed and have the capacity to support projects, they will suffer.
Commitment and capacity go beyond the scope of this week’s article. The first requires good governance practices to fund only those projects which will deliver meaningful value, the ability of the project manager to align stakeholders to the project’s objectives and a healthy dose of servant-leadership. The second requires the leadership team to walk the talk of eliminating unhealthy multitasking by cutting their (portfolio) coats according to their (available resource) cloth.
Capability for supporting projects has two components.
The first is the technical or hard skills that are required to perform the role expected from the individual towards achieving the project’s outcomes. The hope is that good talent management and resource allocation practices coupled with the avoidance of multitasking should take care of the first.
The second is understanding what it means to effectively support a project in the role one is asked to play and this is where most organization’s onboarding programs are lacking.
Yes, you could lean on your project managers to educate team members on rules of engagement, but what about the resource managers, procurement staff, finance analysts and other stakeholders who all need to collaborate effectively to achieve project success? Or what if a given project manager is new to the organization?
Any company which spends more than a fraction of its earnings on funding projects should invest the effort in adding a project work component to its staff onboarding programs. This program should be catered to the needs of specific roles, but should also explain how each role interacts as part of the overall operating model for delivering projects. Additionally, each role should have specific performance measures and incentives tied to effective support for projects.
Let’s put the “organization” back in organizational project management maturity!