What is project management? At root, it is a management process that can be applied to any initiative large or small that must deliver within a certain timeframe and cost, in order to meet specific objectives.

There are a number of significant principles that determine success in any project, and in summary they are as follows:

– Precise Business Needs – Successful projects are business driven and address the ‘why’ of the project. This is known as the business case and is important in that it provides the basis for all decision making.

– Defined Benefits – Projects are about translating the business need into the business benefit which is derived from the new capability delivered by the project. N.B. Programme management will impose the disciplines to define and quantify and management the realisation of these benefits via benefit profiles and benefit management.

– Explicit Plans – Effective planning, allows people to work together in a co-ordinated way in order to achieve the project objectives, and is dependent on the appropriate level of granularity and presentation.

– Project methodology – A set of defined methods, processes and practices that are repeatedly carried out to successfully deliver projects. The project methodology will: create a project roadmap; monitor time, cost and quality; control change and scope; minimise risks and issues, and manage staff and suppliers

– Agreed Deliverables – Quite simply a ‘deliverable’ is an unambiguous way of defining responsibilities in terms of outputs rather than inputs. Each phase, area and task within the project plan should have a tangible deliverable associated with it – something that can be seen, and physically validated.

– Pro-Active Decision Making – Project work has little momentum of its own, unlike routine work. All parties involved are therefore required to take the initiative and actively look for ways of driving and improving the project outcome.

– Single Point Responsibility – In business tasks are only completed successfully when people have unambiguous accountabilities. ‘Single point responsibility’ for results is of the very essence. The Project Manager is ultimately responsible for making the project happen.

– Active Follow-Up – Plans have practical value only when they are used to help people do their daily work. They are similarly used as a means of identifying problems while there is still time to overcome them. Plans must therefore be used throughout the entire project in order to allocate tasks and monitor achievement.

– Open Communications – Time must be invested in communication as it is the key to a successful project. By effectively communicating the project and issues everyone involved has the opportunity to take the initiative and contribute fully with ideas and decisions.

– Good Teamwork – Teamwork in projects is absolutely critical but does not happen automatically. Project work involves people from different parts of the organisation, often with competing priorities and different perspectives, which can make teamwork all the more difficult to achieve. Teams must therefore be actively developed by the Project Manager.

– Strong Leadership – By an individual who is committed to the project objectives, and who has a completely clear view of where the project is going and how they intend to get there leads a successful project. The leadership qualities of the Project Manager are as important as their technical management skills.

Change management – The value added by project management

What is project management within the context of an organisational strategy? It is the dynamic management process that utilises the appropriate resources of an organisation in a controlled and structured manner, to achieve clearly defined objectives and to deliver a capability to meet an identified strategic need.

It is important to stress that it is the benefits and not the capabilities that fulfil the strategic vision. But to realise these business benefits we first need the capabilities that are delivered via successful project management and from the benefits are derived.

In a change management context, whilst project management is crucially important, good project management alone will not guarantee success. It is Programme Management that will lead to the realisation of the business benefit envisaged in the organisational strategy.

Programme management provides the more holistic perspective – that takes in the bigger picture. It provides this via a supplementary framework that takes the longer and wider view of the management of any and all other activities that are necessary to ensure the realisation of the business benefits.

My own approach to change management goes even further than programme management and includes:

(1) A thorough analysis of organisational culture- as it this that determines how your people will respond to a change initiative.

(2) A pre-programme review and planning process.

In my view these 2 additional steps are necessary to analyse and connect the strategic vision with a successful project level implementation – and to do so in the critical context of the cultural and people issues.

See here for the full change management implications of: “Project management

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