Project management – an essential business skill for everyone

Project management – an essential business skill for everyone

The Coronavirus pandemic has meant organizations doing many things in new ways and not all of them working well.

Change has been imposed where, normally, it is well-managed and implemented. And this has led to “bottom-up project management”: people creating solutions locally while working remotely.

No doubt, this has brought a myriad of good ideas. However, they could be even better by using the right project management methods.

Coronavirus aside, the days of 18-month projects are gone. With cycle times of six to seven months organizations need to be more flexible, which means having people with project management-type skills that are essential for business in general.

Organizational change and improvements

There is no widely-agreed distinction between what should be managed within a business unit (BAU) or creating a temporary management structure called a project.

Today, I believe many projects could be done by people at the front line if they have the right skills and techniques.

For business generalists, there are a number of things to consider:

  1. What do you want to change to make the organization better?
  1. How might this change be achieved safely?
  1. How would your activities look in the context of a project?
  1. What risks are there?
  1. What tasks need to be completed and in what order?
  1. What resources do you need to deliver the necessary products?

If you have all of this under control, you’ll be in a good place. It’s neither magic nor mystery; it just makes good sense.

Adopting a method – PRINCE2

If your organization is embarking on a number of projects, they need to be able to co-operate.

Without a consistent method or set of processes projects can’t co-operate and will use different terminology leading to confusion and increased risk. Also, organizations need to be able to calculate accurate, comparative costs between projects.

The reality is, organizations with well-trained people lead to good organizations in which project management skills can and should be developed for everyone – and no project method has had as much valuable input as PRINCE2®. To draw an analogy, if you want to cook something new, a recipe book is a good idea; so, understanding and adopting the PRINCE2 method provides the foundation for project management best practice.

Another valuable approach is assigning people to a PRINCE2 project. This helps them understand why things are done in a certain way. Research commissioned by CITI has shown that enabling more junior managers to shadow experienced and effective project managers tends to make them excellent project managers in future.

However, while a lot of development can be done in-house, project managers don’t achieve excellence by observation alone. They still need to achieve a formal accreditation such as PRINCE2 to obtain the full spectrum of project management knowledge and techniques, as every project is different.

Despite the fact that organizations and their people are in a form of new normal, they shouldn’t assume that this is its final state. They will recognize things that need to change to balance the best elements of working remotely and on company premises.

Therefore, they will need change projects of more and less significance to reach a happy medium – and that will need more people capable of running such projects.

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