Projects are about changing, improving, and ‘future-proofing’ organisations and communities.
Projects are how organisations from across the public and private sectors implement their corporate strategy, achieve organisational goals, deliver outcomes, implement policy, restructure, upgrade, innovate, engage, and so on…
To do this, they need a strong foundation of project management capability. It’s what makes them agile, resilient, and successful.
Here are six reasons why project management has become increasingly important over the past decade and will continue on this trajectory:
1. It’s cheaper, faster, and better.
Organisations that apply formal project management practices complete more projects, and do them cheaper and faster, than organisations who take an ‘ad-hoc’ approach. This has been researched and documented in countless sources including the annual Standish Group’s ‘CHAOS Report’. So “knife and forking” your way through projects simply doesn’t cut it any more.Organisations that don’t insist on the use of best-practice project management processes, tools, and techniques are less efficient, less effective, and generally unsustainable; while those that develop their project management capability and maturity survive by ‘corporate natural selection’.
2. Projects are full of opportunities.
The flip side is that they are also bring threats. By definition, projects are higher in risk compared with Business As Usual. They typically involve work that is new, unique, and different to the every-day work undertaken in the organisation. Project managers often walk a fine line between threat and opportunity, and they need to do so in accordance with the organisation’s appetite for risk. That said, as the business world continues to transform in the wake of digital technology, social media and disruption – change is needed – and projects are the most viable way to deliver such change to both seize opportunities, ensure business survival and control associated risks.
3. Projects are increasingly complex.
There are many factors that drive this – the rise of outsourcing, off-shoring, globalisation, legislation, climate change, rapidly evolving technologies, and more. Because of these factors, organisations need to evolve constantly and respond quickly to changes in their environment. Managing projects in this context requires flexibility and innovation, balanced with systematic practices and methodologies that can be applied on similar projects for greater efficiency. This is true of both the public sector, which is challenged more than ever to “do more with less”; as well as the private sector, where fierce competition and the rapid evolution of technology forces companies to embrace risk, be innovative, deliver first, and, of course, remain profitable.
4. Projects create benefits.
Project Managers must understand the link between project objectives and organisational benefits, and what they need to do during the project (such as benefit benchmarking or developing a Benefits Realisation Plan) to support Benefits Realisation, which occurs after the project. This is because project managers are responsible for achieving the project’s objective (on-time, within-budget, on-specification); while sponsors and program managers are responsible for those projects leading to benefits and long term outcomes for the organisation. The project manager and project sponsor/program manager must therefore work together to ensure that the execution of the project creates the desired benefits down the track. Hence the saying: “project managers are responsible for doing projects right; project sponsors are responsible for doing the right projects”.
5. Projects involve the entire organisation.
All levels of the organisation participate on projects, from senior executives who approve the business case, down to technical team members who work on the project deliverables. All of these people need to understand how their role aligns with other roles in the organisation – how their piece of the puzzle fits into the boarder picture. Indeed, everyone who participates on projects needs to understand what work they are doing, and why.
6. Projects involve other organisations.
Delivering long term outcomes and benefits through projects and programs of work becomes even more tricky when the project is delivered by multiple organisations, such as through a consortium or supply chain. This situation requires each project manager from each organisation to understand why the project is being done, and how it contributes to benefits not only for their organisation, but also for their client, their client’s client, and so on…. all of whose interests and requirements need to be managed if the long term outcomes of the project or program are to be achieved. Clearly this requires strong ethical principles and professionalism from each link in the chain, as well as core capabilities around portfolio, program, and project management.
For all these reasons and more project management remains a critical organisational and individual capability in the innovation era. If you are interested in your own developing your own project management skills or that of your organisations, Elemental Projects offers a suite of public and in-house project management courses as well as bespoke offerings. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.