At the start of the new year Project Management leaders should take some time to be sure the organization is focused on delivering successful projects in 2018. But how do you do that? What are some of the key steps which need to be taken to give you the best chance for success?
Here are my top 3 areas you should be focused on:
The most important item to consider to deliver successful projects is to align your projects to your Strategy. It doesn't matter if you are a startup, mid-size, or large corporation, you should have a Project Portfolio aligned to your Strategic Objectives. The 2017 PMI, Pulse of the Profession provides statistical support of my assertion. Organizations with a high alignment of Projects to Strategy have a 77% success rate compared to only a 56% success rate with a low alignment of Projects to Strategy.
Why the glaring disparity? When projects are aligned to strategy the organization better appreciates the importance of the project. When projects are important leaders pay attention. When leaders pay attention resources perform at a higher level, obstacles (Risks/Issues) are removed more easily, and funding is not challenged.
Once you've identified the right projects to work on this year you should evaluate your resource pool to determine if you have the right resources available. This can often be quite a complex undertaking. Your organization will be forced into estimating what skills will be needed and forecast when those skills will be needed throughout the year.
There are several PPM software tools which can help with this exercise or for smaller organizations we have Resource Planning spreadsheets in our toolkit we can utilize. The goal of this exercise is to ensure you aren't setting the project up to fail before it even begins. Think about a baseball game. When a team has to play a doubleheader they usually put an extra pitcher or two on the roster that day. They are doing resource management to ensure they have the right resources available at the right time. It is the same with projects, if you have an eCommerce project and a Web development project both active at the same time will you have developers, testers, and project managers to support both projects?
Lastly, it is critical to have projects working consistently across the organization. This isn't me advocating for some version of Agile vs some version of Waterfall. I'm advocating for consistency. For example, in your organization today how do you handle yearly performance reviews?
Most likely, all departments conduct reviews at the same time, in the same format, and using a common system. Same for paying invoices. Regardless of the vendor or the department utilizing the vendor your organization will pay all vendors the same way, using the same GL, and this process is repeatable month after month after month.
While each project is unique, the process for how to deliver that project should be consistent. Consistency and adoption across the organization help set expectations with leadership and team members. When all projects have a Charter, Kick-off, Weekly Status, Lessons Learned, etc then teams understand how to deliver and what the Project Manager will expect from the team
This is a high level view of setting up your organization for success. Like each project is unique, so too is each organization. You'll need to find a way to engage your leaders to support your efforts to Align projects to Strategy, Provide the proper resources, and Adhere to consistent project Management processes across the organization.