Amongst all the processes in a business, project management offers the best possible opportunities for easy wins. However, whilst project management is recognised as being vital to innovation and change management, it is often underinvested due to its perceived difficulty.
These are some of my suggestions for actions that can be implemented in an organisation:
- taking the time to develop a thorough understanding by each of the partners of what the others are doing, both between organisational functions and between clients and suppliers
- performing teambuilding with the tools that will actually be used on the project and then practising using the tools to become familiar with each other’s way of working
- seriously reinforcing the ability to structure the lessons learned from past projects in order to furnish future estimates and anticipation of risks (doing this well is quite rare)
- intensifying the overall understanding of business constraints, benefits and needs, value and costs, opportunities and threats at various organisational levels and across disciplines
- deliberately specifying ambitious constraints that serve as stretch objectives to stimulate creative and integrating solutions and those that necessitate process improvements
- acknowledging that, a project being the essence of disruption, something will change, and even be broken, in the existing procedures and processes in order to achieve success
- taking out the administrative pain from the process and procedures in order to make the process much more attractive and potent through an appropriate and focused minimalism
- beating ‘Students Syndrome’ (doing things at the last minute) by managing the start and finish of activities, and by planning and managing milestones (feet and inch stones)
- overcoming ‘Parkinson’s Law’ by ensuring that trust and transparency allows information about contingency, motivation and competencies to be pooled
- ensuring tighter handovers, fluent transfers and catalyzed interfaces by running the project like a relay race that allows activities to start early if the previous activities are early
- enhancing the culture for visual communication, for using an exploratory scientific approach, graphical instruments, enriched conceptual modelling and tangible prototyping
- integrating methods from program management, problem solving, service and quality management, in order to synchronise best practices instead of a piecemeal approach
- underlining and emphasising core values, such as openness, data focus and no-blame attitude, that allow decision making to be more informed, consistent and sustainable.
It is evident that some of these wins are easier than others, but they are also mutually supporting. Taken as a whole, it would be hard to find other areas in an organisation where investment in methods and learning can have such a large impact (bang for the buck.)