Does your company have a serious plan for project management? Is project management something the management team focuses on? Read more and learn how investing in project management can secure the future of your business.
A project manager is not just a project manager. A competent project manager can be the difference between the success and failure of a project – and, in the end, of the company. Not only do competent project managers understand the business aspect; they also manage the project safely through changes and challenges while staying focused on the agreed-upon deadline and price. This is the kind of project manager that really makes a difference on the bottom line for companies. Project managers are the organisation’s best change agents, as it is through projects that companies execute their objectives and strategy.
Based on this, it makes sense that companies want their projects to succeed, but this requires companies to invest in project management first. Otherwise, the quality of the project management will be too reliant on chance and dependent on whether the company was successful in recruiting a talented individual.
Previously, even the best project managers would look at the project itself in isolation and then make things happen. We now know that that approach is far too narrow. Today, competent project managers must be able to look at a project from a 360-degree angle and understand its full commercial value. They must excel in structure, management, communication and leadership, because the project management task has grown as projects have become bigger and more complex. Still, I often see that project managers stand alone in the organisation because companies have not managed to lay down a framework for them that is supported by an organisational structure.
We often talk about a weak or a strong organisational matrix where project managers find themselves in the weak part and line managers in the strong part. This puzzles me. IIf we want successful projects and competent project managers, we must also empower and authorise them as much as possible. Companies should ask themselves why they are sending some of their most crucial soldiers into combat without effective weapons. Naturally, it is also about governance, or rather a lack of governance.
Project managers have become more competent, but the steering committee and the organisation must also get better at handling project management. Project management doesn’t happen somewhere downstairs in the engine room. Project management is a living strategy. Therefore, there should be a direct line from the management to the project management team if success is to be secured. Today we have crystal-clear evidence that it is easier for competent project managers to realise their goals through goal-oriented project management.
Over the last few years, many have leveraged their role as project manager to advance in the organisation. However, we are still lacking a large residual group, and there’s a long way to go before project managers are offered the same streamlined career path as line managers. Thus, it is less attractive for ambitious, talented individuals to take the project management route, and that is problematic, as we need those talented individuals in order to create the winning companies of the future. Great projects do not come about by chance. They require hard work and a plan that originates with the management.
I have worked with several leading engineering companies and helped them create their own project management academy, which in a surprisingly short time, had a measurable impact on their projects. Not only did the project economies improve – the customers were happier as well. In other words, the investment in project management was returned through fewer losses, an improved bottom line and customers who remained customers.
There is no doubt that many leaders wish to attain a high-performance culture, but it takes investment in things like project management to bring about the sort of culture that many leaders are dreaming of. There is no use for objective pep talks in the canteen when behaviour and competences need to shift. The companies that really succeed in leveraging their project management create a professional career path for their project managers, because the project managers are essential for the company’s future success. In that way, the career ladder becomes attractive to competent candidates who are able to see goals and a direction within the profession.
Effective project management is so important for success that all top executives ought to focus on it if they want their strategy to be executed. Fortunately, I am also seeing a clear trend in that direction, as there should be. In an ever-changing world – where what worked this morning doesn’t work this evening – competent project managers are ready for just that – to tackle the tornado of changes and challenges. It is a superb match between the needs of the future and the project management role. The organisations who manage to see and capitalise on this will of course have many more successful projects. There is no doubt that project managers are the leaders of the future.