If you ask different people in different industries what is an effective project delivery organization, most likely you would get many different answers. An organization’s success drivers will determine what area of the project delivery organization gets the most attention.
It has been my experience working with large technology companies and valued-added-resellers that most organizations value and expect efficiency and cost-savings as the major deliverables of a project management office/team. These expectations can be mapped back to the 3 timeless tenets of project management: Scope, Time and Cost.
This is where the rubber meets the road, where you can separate amateurs from professionals—where a project manager can draw the line and show up as a mere coordinator or a professional project manager. Being able to align the project management methodology with the organizations strategic direction is a not a simple task and one that can definitely provide fruitful rewards for the brave souls that embark in its pursuit. The approach will depend on the type of organization and PMO size or lack thereof.
In the 10+ years managing projects of all sizes and different technologies and also by reading and sharing experiences with other PMs, these steps have allowed me to deliver projects successfully and effectively:
- Implement and adjust
- Repeat steps 1-3
These steps are the approach I employed when I join a new organization. I take a new assignment/job in order to project manage a new technology (not necessarily new technology in the market, but new technology for me) or to enhance the organization’s PMO.
In the assessment phase I sit down with the delivery team, services manager and executive sponsor. I dive into the organization and concentrate on two very important activities which are: 1) find out everything about the existing project management process and 2) start managing existing/new projects right away. This allows me to learn the culture of the organization and determine what is in place and what is missing. Individually I will review historical data/records to get a picture of what has worked and what has not.
Once sufficient data points have been collected and the company’s strategic plan is understood, it’s time to develop the enhancement plan. As most PMs know, we have to be sensitive to the words you use when joining a new organization. If you come across as the “fix-it-all expert”, expect resistance and lack of support for your plan in some cases.
My experience is that once the plan has been determined and drafted, it is best to start implementing it immediately. I want to be clear: it depends to a large extent on the type of organization you are in. In a large organization with an established PMO, executing the plan right away can be and most likely will be viewed negatively since you have to review it with the organization’s PMO for feedback. The best feedback I have experienced is the one that the field gives you. Sometimes I find that organizations have processes in place but they do not necessarily translate to using them to deliver projects.
Armed with feedback from implementation of the plan, it is time to make adjustments to the plan right away. What worked? What can be improved?
As you continuously repeat the process, you will start noticing that efficiency is improving. Efficiency in resource allocation and time frames are optimized. I found that this platform of constant process improvement portrays a sense of control and order that most of the customers I have worked with appreciate and expect. Once you reach this level of operation in your organization, in my experience, I have noticed that scope creep situations are dealt with head on and resolved professionally and justly with customers.
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