Project and business execution
The realisation of business strategies is increasingly based upon projects. More and more companies are delivering their product, service or solution through projects. Thus the success of executing projects in a timely and efficient way is becoming increasingly crucial for the success of the company.
Think of this situation: The project’s business case is clear at project kickoff, the planning and estimation has been done properly. But during execution the situation changes and suddenly the benefits of the project decreases and the business case is far from what it was at the beginning.
Why is that? Are we becoming less mature in running projects? Are projects more complex than before? Are project managers and controllers too busy or incompetent or …
By working with both national and international companies Mannaz have experienced that companies are facing major write-downs on projects, meaning that the expected profit and benefits from the projects were much higher than what was actually achieved. This is an increasing issue that needs to be tackled.
To solve this growing problem we need to focus on project execution, planning and ensure a strong connection to the business strategy.
Being able to plan, estimate, monitor and control the project is the foundation of any project, but successful projects in today’s rapidly changing business environment more than ever demand leadership skills as well.
This implies project managers need to work with setting the scene, justification of projects, handling change, working with clients and other stakeholders, and developing teams and people. They have to show direction in a maze of opportunities and attractions.
How we see project leadership
- Taking the lead both towards all stakeholders and the steering committee.
- Setting direction and aligning people and teams
- Handling change and coping with resistance both within the team and among the stakeholders
- Team development and people development
- Building on strength and diversity of people especial in the team
- Supplying motivation and positive outlook when times get tough
- Negotiation and conflict handling
A project leader must show leadership towards the project team (leading down), handle the management/steering committee (leading up), handle/lead the client and other stakeholders (leading out) and finally lead her/himself (leading in/personal leadership)
But the majority of project managers are highly skilled specialists, who often also have a logical and rational approach to solving tasks and challenges. Not everyone is aware of or experienced in leading people. Our surveys also show that ‘people issues’ are the top scoring challenges for the project managers – not the tools and methods.
When leadership is taught
When Mannaz works with organisations, teams and individuals in developing capabilities in project leadership we often focus on some of the following themes:
- project team development and leadership
- engagement and motivation
- conflict handling
- the difficult conversation
- leading and taking advantage of diversity
- Remote management
- cultural leadership
- presentation skills
- People development
- leadership styles
- handling change and resistance
We work with these themes in a project context, since the typical lack of formal authority, pressure to create something unique/new, and the often cross-organisational teams and stakeholders which frequently adds complexity to project leadership compared to line management.
Successful projects require extensive execution and leadership skills. Through 30 years of project management and leadership, we have established a firm methodology for ensuring successful project execution.
From three decades’ experience, we have built a project management methodology focussing on:
- a governance set-up focusing on strategic alignment and continues focus on the right projects
- aligning project scope with KPI’s and other means of expected long term business impact measurements
- transition and business change activities from the very start to the very end of the project
- planning the entire project properly
- monitor and control of project execution in order to keep the projects on track
- proactively handling uncertainty and risks – and to take the necessary corrective actions in order to bring the project back on track
- handling unforeseen situations – change request management
- handling stakeholder expectations and communication
- developing organisational and personal project management competencies – including hard skills, soft skills and organisational skills.
Mannaz offers training in project management at all organisational levels ranging from an international level for highly experienced project managers to a basic level for project leaders and participants.
In partnership with our clients, we can choose to base the training on one or more of the internationally recognised certifications, where Mannaz is accredited, registered or approved by all: PMI, IPMA or PRINCE2
Mannaz can help an organisation’s strategy implementation take shape and gather speed, by integrating our method into a set of offerings within project management.
PMI® is a registered trademark of Project Management Institute, Inc.
Portfolio and programme management
In our offerings, we do it to. That is, tend to focus almost solely on project execution. We stand behind this priority of getting things done in the best possible way, but we also know that there is a strategic and tactical level surrounding the art of project execution – a level that can be somewhat neglected in the urge to execute the projects right!
Working professionally within this level – called Portfolio and Programme management – means setting up the organisation’s project organisation, and implementing systems for choosing the right projects and “pooling” them in relevant programmes. In other words: executing the right projects in a controlled way.
Portfolio management means:
- creating consistency between strategy and projects,
- choosing the right projects
- prioritisation of projects,
- follow-up on project portfolio,
- optimising resource allocation
- deciding on project documentation,
Program management means:
- clustering your projects in relevant programs
- creating a common goal for clustered projects
- focus on harvesting benefits rather than delivering deliverables
- focus on the change the program brings to the organization/clients etc.
Creating synergy and a direct link between the individual project and the organisation’s strategy creates a clear project orientation, culture and enforces a common understanding in the organisation of why each “project-brick” is important. Without this link and orchestration you will have a limited chance of optimising your benefits for the organisation as such.
Mannaz can assist you in creating structures and systems on:
- How to handle projects, programs and portfolios in a standardized way tailored to your organisation
- Project prioritisation
- Optimising decision handling regarding the project portfolio
- Establish a project governance structure, including roles and responsibilities and follow up structure
- Integrate project and development initiatives with other business critical activities
- Optimise ressource utilisation to fit the strategic need
Project maturity assessment
Mannaz believes that projects are the vehicle used to realise the organisations strategy and thereby achieve the business goals. Accordingly, improving the project maturity of the organisation is key.
Mannaz defines project maturity as doing the right things right. To elaborate on that, doing the right (prioritised) projects that will enable the organisation to meet their strategy is one part of it. Another part is the approach to execute the projects in the right way.
A lot of companies experience that far too many projects are shut down due to project immaturity. They neglect to do a proper analysis of WHY (why MUST this project be started, how is it linked to the strategy, is it the right timing, do we have the resources in place), HOW are we going to succeed with it and who is going to do it?
To know the current state of your project or portfolio, Mannaz uses the maturity measurement – a quantitative measurement. It consists of a questionnaire involving all parts of the organisation. A large number of individuals, (typically more than 100), who are all involved in projects, will receive a password for the questionnaire to be completed online.
The maturity measurement is based on the Mannaz maturity assessment framework which includes the following areas:
- Project environment (methods for project management, project management roles, project control and execution tools, training of project managers and project evaluation)
- Portfolio management (consistency between strategy and projects, project documentation, prioritisation of projects, follow-up on project portfolio, resource allocation)
- Organisation (process for project management, support for project management, project management competencies, organisational learning, reward process)
- Planning and completion (changes in the project, framework and background of the project, planning of the project, description and limitations of the project, principles and methods of project work)
- Project management (follow-up, control of development, quality assurance of the project, control of the project’s added value to the business)
- Project management (project manager role, communication, leadership of the project group, personal communication, decision processes)
The result of the pre-analysis is a number of outputs, including:
- Proposed action plan for the further qualification development of project competency.? This is part of the project management implementation with 2-3 pages of overall strategy notes dealing with visions, main strategic milestones and critical success factors
- Highlights of project assessment, including best/worst practices and weak points within the project and project portfolio management (methods, tools and experience)
- Maturity measurement report, including conclusions on the organisation’s actual state and where to focus.
Project Leadership Profile (360 degree assessments)
Mannaz’s 360° Project Leadership Profile (PLP)-assessment is a development tool that provides the individual project leader with feedback on how his or her project leadership skills are experienced by others.
How does a project leader benefit from a 360° Project Leadership Profile?
A 360° measurement means that the project leader, his or her superior/sponsor, project participants, customers and other people that are relevant to the project are asked identical questions about the project leaders’ behavior in relation to the given project.
A 360° Project Leadership Profile measurement is a tool which through feedback helps improve leadership skills based on real-life input. It is a status overview which provides a solid starting point for the further development of a project leader.
The project leader will choose who will provide feedback through the questionnaire from the group of project participants, other relevant persons and possibly customers. . The project leader is provided with guidance in choosing the respondents.
The feedback enables the project leader to focus on his or her own development as a project leader in direct correlation to the needs of the project and organisation involved. At the same time, the real time-real life links also ensures that the development plan determined by the feedback provides optimal value for the project and organisation.
Professional and personal feedback
In connection with a Project Leadership Profile assessment, the project leader is always offered a feedback session with a professional – which in this case means a person certified in using the PLP tool set.
The results from the assessment arereviewed during this session and the project leader is coached in retaining and enhancing those behaviours that serve his or her purpose, and in altering or developing the aspects where the assessment points to improvement potential.
Behind the scenes of the Mannaz 360° PLP
The Mannaz 360° PLP assessment is based on more than 20 years’ widespread experience within project leadership and leadership development in both public and private organisations, as well as Danish and international studies of the leadership tasks of the future and a solid theoretical basis.
The assessment tool is updated regularly and therefore always reflects the regimen of competences, which are deemedcritical to handle the task of being a project leader in the current environment.
It is crucial to highlight that the assessment serves as a development tool for the individual project leader, as a way of enabling him or her to become a better leader. As such, the tool is not a measurement of productivity or efficiency, nor is it a personality test.
Categories and project leader competences
Mannaz’s PLP assessment tool outlines four overall perspectives relating to effective project leadership:
- Execution factors
- Leadership factors
- Team leadership factors
- Personality factors
Each of the four main categories has three subcategories, which define the most critical project leadership competences, and an additional six behavioural statements (questions) in connection with each competence.
Project Leadership Profile
The assessment’s questionnaire thus contains a total of 72 questions – six questions under each of the 12 project leader competences. In addition there is a small amount of background questions such as age, position, seniority, etc.
These categories and competences are chosen based on Danish and international studies of changes in business conditions and working environment and the resulting need for adaptation of the project leadership role and tasks.
The project manager role and remit (or mandate, up to you) – have evolved extensively over time, from the 1980s focus on management the emphasis on leadership today. That is why Mannaz has developed this specific project leadership feedback tool that focuses on all elements of a project managers competencies
While there may be buy-in from both management and potential participants to the idea of a leadership development or project management programme, the thought of time spent in classroom situations and course days away from the job can make potential participants sceptical.
We would be too, if we did not know how Flexible•Learning™ solution design from Mannaz is, integrating learning and development into real life-real time challenges.
Our Flexible•Learning™ concept
As a full-service provider of development, Mannaz works with all means, media and channels providing customers with their desired learning experiences. Mannaz has always scrutinised new developments in virtual learning processes, and we have a well-defined e-learning concept based on four different options to integrate virtual learning into a learning process:
1. e-Learning programmes
2. Virtual online learning solutions
3. Collaborative learning
4. Combined solutions
These can be combined in a number of ways, to meet the purpose and requirements of the task at hand. Mannaz has competency in-house to manage the creation of the types of learning described above. This enables us to integrate the virtual-learning elements in the overall solution design in a seamless way, by including one or more of the following:
- Tailor-made e-Learning programmes
- High quality e-Learning programmes and performance support tools provided by Harvard Business Online
- Simulation tools, learning games, etc. from third-party providers
With Flexible•Learning™ the learning curve improves during, and particularly throughout, the duration of the programme. Normally the learning curve drops after an educational programme, but our results show that Flexible•Learning™ leads to a continuously increasing learning curve up to 3-6 months after the programme has formally ended.