Best Work Practices On The Job

Project Management – Activity or Strategy?

With thanks to contributors Al Prado, Kevin Fichtner and Phil Hopkins
IT Recruiting

Is Project Management an activity or is it a strategy? If your answer to that question isn’t both options, you may be wasting time and money.

Not to delve too deeply into semantics, but most people perceive a “project” to have temporary status —something with a clear beginning, middle and end. But if that project defines your organization, your business, or even your team, it is then a strategic device that identifies who or what you are. In other words, the project is you, and must therefore be treated as a strategically managed entity, able to make or break your business.

Yes, this sounds a tad dramatic. But consider this: In its 2013 report, “The High Cost of Low Performance”, the Project Management Institute (PMI) reported that “for every $1 billion spent on a failed project, $135 million is lost forever… unrecoverable.”

Now that’s dramatic.

Sound project management is an insurance policy on the investment that is your business. According to PMI, project management tailored to fit the organization’s culture “brings value by improving:

  • The execution of strategy, through repeatable, reliable performance and standardization;
  • The integration within the organization, through elimination of ‘silos’ and better communication and collaboration; and
  • The learning that a projectized organization undergoes as it explores new products, processes and markets.”

And while technology has a key communications role to play in project management, it’s instructive to remember that while technology has made us more efficient, it hasn’t necessarily made us more effective. Technology and communications must be integrated into the core factors of project management, which include the scope of the project; the schedule for completion; the resources involved (generally human); the budget; the quality of the work; and the risk entailed. If all these factors are in balance, you’ll probably have a well-managed and successful project. Yes, probably. Because, as you know, even with all those items covered, there is still no guarantee your project will succeed. Those items are all activity related, and what makes a project successful is the combination of those activities, strategically driven by, you, the Project Manager.

So, now that the case for effective project management has been made, how do you begin? Back to PMI, which identified five types of Project Management Offices (PMO):

  • Departmental: Supports a specific business unit or division
  • Project-specific: Oversees the success of a particular project
  • Strategic: Oversees a major organizational change
  • Project-support: Handles administrative tasks to speed project completion
  • Center of Excellence: Provides project managers with ongoing training and tools

There are many scenarios to consider in determining which function your PMO should handle — Do you have several unfocused initiatives underway? Are your people overwhelmed with administrative tasks? Do you have one major, core project that’s the focus of your business? Do you want to enter a new market altogether?

By now, the benefits should be apparent in deciding whether to establish a PMO and committing to project management. And that’s why project management is both a strategy and an activity.


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