Introducing Project Management Best Practice into Organisations
How supportive is your organisation when it comes to supporting best practice on projects? Do they try to provide the right resources? Are they willing to contribute to and accept your estimates? Do they understand “management by exception”? Do they resent or belittle your new found knowledge?
It is often perplexing that organisations rightly invest in their project staff by sending them on training courses, yet the when staff return enthused with best practice, the organisation sticks to the same inefficient and bureaucratic ways. This seems to make little sense but indicates the usual resistance to change in most organisations. Immediate superiors often fail to see the bigger picture and are unclear as to the advantages of adopting best practices and how they can be tailored to organisational processes and procedures. Business leaders understand the benefits but their influence rarely permeate down to the project manager level.
There was clearly a business case for spending scarce funds on the training but as usual the delivery of the output, the trained project staff, is not followed through to manage the outcome, a more effective and efficient project department, and thereby reaping the rewards.
We need to encourage the adoption of best practice in order to take advantage of the training. This means creating the right environment for the practices to develop and be tailored to the organisation. The result will be more successful projects delivering the right products within the agreed business objectives such as time, cost, risk and most importantly benefits.
So how do we deal with the situation? Well here are a couple of ideas:
Whilst there is little time in people’s busy business lives perhaps regular bite-sized training by a PM for all staff including those at Sponsor level would be effective. Chose a theme such as Business Case or monitoring and control and give them ten minutes training with ten minutes for questions. Engage the sponsor level executives by asking them to think about “what’s in it for me and the business?” Try to emphasis the benefits of using best practice for the benefit of all, the PM, the project, the Sponsors and most importantly for the organisation.
If the circumstances or politics within an organisation are not conducive to change then you may need to use stealth to introduce best practice. Gently introduce new procedures, such as streamlined reporting, learning lessons, estimating techniques or improved risk management which can show benefit. Be sure to measure your work in order to show how much improvement has been made. This can then be used as evidence that best practice is effective. You may have to help senior managers think it was their idea to make the changes in order to be successful. It is a small price to pay for more control in your projects.
Perhaps you have some ideas of your own that you may wish to share?