3 Best Project Management Practices to Enhance Business Value
Good project management (PM)—and a good project manager—can take an organization to new heights, delivering real business value through strategic planning, enhanced customer service, faster delivery and greater productivity. Getting to the point where your PM drives these successful outcomes is not always easy. Whether you are a SMB, SME or a large enterprise, project management is a challenge! Read on for three best practices that can turn your PM into the linchpin of your organization and a true driver of business value.
Master Resource Management
The way that a PMO or project management leader tackles resource management will make or break them. Why? Think of resource management in terms of a military campaign. In the military, resource management falls under logistics. General Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “You will not find it difficult to prove that battles, campaigns, and even wars have been won or lost primarily because of logistics.”
Management consultant Tom Peters penned a similar thought in a Fast Company article that credited Lieutenant General William Gus Pagonis’s logistical management with success in the Gulf War. Peters writes, “Vision, sure. Strategy, yes. But when you go to war, you need to have both toilet paper and bullets at the right place at the right time. In other words, you must win through superior logistics.”
Replace toilet paper and bullets with any number of business resources and replace the general with your PMO leadership team and you start to get the point. A strong PM effort directs resources to their proper place at the proper time. To quote Peters once more, “It doesn’t matter how brilliant your vision and strategy are if you can’t get the soldiers, the weapons, the vehicles, the gasoline, the chow — the boots, for God’s sake! — to the right people, at the right place, at the right time.” How does your PMO become a master of resource management?
So, you want your PM team to achieve a high degree of logistical sophistication. The way you do that is to provide your PMO with full visibility. One reason that many PM efforts fail is that different departments and leaders keep them in the dark through poor communication, siloed information, outdated technology and defunct management methodologies. Shifting back to the battlefield analogy, what level of success do you think a general will achieve if he or she has no idea where the vehicles are? Objectives won’t be met if the leader can’t get access to information about how many boots there are on the ground, or if there are hungry soldiers without proper sanitation, or if some of the troops have been redeployed to a new front? There are lots of parallels between this situation and what you might face in your organization.
As an example: During the Korean War, a lack of access to information was nearly disastrous to the United States Marine Corp. During the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, they sent a request for desperately needed mortar ammo using the code name “Tootsie Rolls”. However, no one had supplied the radio operator with the code sheets and so he sent, you guessed it, thousands of Tootsie Rolls to Marines in the heat of battle.
Now, this story has a better ending than you might think, as the Marines were in need of food as well as bullets and the candy gave them energy. They also found that it worked excellently for plugging bullet holes (yes, in their bodies). However, it was chance, not planning, that led to a better outcome. No one would ever recommend allowing such errors in communication on purpose, right? If the above scenarios seem crazy on the battlefield, ask yourself why you would similar practices in your business.
If you want your PM to master resource planning, you need to break down silos, centralize all your projects and portfolios regardless of their management methodology and provide them with the most up-to-date project management technology. You will then ensure that your PM can view resources, projects, deadlines, deliverables and other key information in real time. Speaking of information …
Supply Metrics and Data
If resource management relies on visibility, then visibility relies on good data. In the scenario with the theoretical general, part of the problem was communication. The other was a lack of information. Just like a military logistician, your project management leadership is operating in multi-project environments that demand the ability to act fast and make informed decisions based upon accurate data. The last part — accurate data — is critical. If your organization is still relying on spreadsheets or antiquated tech tools to translate information, you’re already at a disadvantage. If your people are operating in silos, that’s strike two. Strike three comes when there isn’t a unified interpretation of data.
You can combat these problems by instituting a single centralized data source powered by a web-based management application. Enhance that by implementing centralized milestone tracking capability and using a role-based dashboard to break through management layers. Not only will your PM be equipped with accurate information to manage on the fly, they’ll also be armed for better forecasting based upon historic data. The fact that your team will have the info they need to support buy-in from stakeholders with regard to the decisions certainly won’t hurt.
Embrace these three project management best practices to help you achieve the outcomes that will best benefit your entire organization. By mastering resource management, increasing visibility and supplying metrics and data, you will create a full-circle strategy for success.