Project management: universal skills for changing organizations

Project management files on a desk

The coronavirus pandemic has led to major changes in the way that business is conducted in terms of interfacing and interacting with customers and organizations’ internal processes.

This may well result in the commissioning of multiple projects to formalize and de-risk the new ways of working, including:

  1. Large, business-critical, external-facing projects which should be assigned to the most capable project managers
  2. Significant internal projects assigned to less able project managers
  3. Small internal projects that may be assigned to local managers rather than to project managers.

The increased need for change will almost certainly mean the supply of project management skills and experience will be exceeded by the demand. Consequently, the likelihood of local projects being left with local mangers to implement – probably the largest group – will increase.

This is where learning and certification in PRINCE2 becomes valuable: not only is it probably the most accessible project management method, having a singular vocabulary to discuss change is advantageous. Non-project managers would do well to get used to that language, what it means and how to communicate effectively with it.

Increasing project management knowledge across organizations

One, simple way to improve the success of change initiatives is to prepare people who are going to contribute to and be affected by projects. They need to be aware of the principal differences they will encounter when interacting with project rather than operational staff.

For example, they might be slightly alarmed that the project manager is unlikely to be a technical expert in their part of the business; they also have to confront the level of authority invested in the project manager.

If people are aware of the processes, governance structures, approaches to risk, levels of uncertainty, etc., involved in project work, they will be much more able to accommodate and co-operate with change initiatives.

Organizations could also expect such an approach to increase efficiency and effectiveness in project-manager-led scenarios (1 and 2 above) where non-project-managers have become more aware of, if not wholly familiar with, the language and approaches of project management.

Also, if someone has a working knowledge of project management principles and processes, etc. they will be far better equipped to take the lead in one of the organization’s smaller, internal projects. For example, typical small projects would include enabling staff to work from home in terms of modified processes, alterations to HR support mechanisms and training in new ways of working. Also, internal operations changes which affect customers, such as increase in “click and collect” services, packaging and delivery plus managing relationships with local suppliers.

Rather than attempting to modify operational approaches to ‘fit’ project demands, they will have a framework within which to structure their project. This will significantly reduce risk of failure and will also make the task of those providing assurance much easier.

Long-term benefits of project management skills

Beyond the immediate drive for change caused by Covid-19, the rate of business change continues to increase.

The idea of projects running for 18 months or longer is not an option if you’re going to remain competitive.

Therefore, organizations faced with embedding more frequent change into their operations will need a greater number of operational managers who understand project management to help deliver more benefits, more quickly.

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below statement is very much true:

The idea of projects running for 18 months or longer is not an option if you’re going to remain competitive.
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