Critical to the success of any organization in today’s economy is its ability to seamlessly coordinate activities between all its departments. Additionally, each department is expected to produce more with fewer resources. Although it is imperative that improvements be made in every corner of the organization, this article discusses some strategies to improve the efficiency of the PMO.
I had the good fortune of handling projects for Fortune 500 companies with stakeholders situated in multiple global locations. It is my desire to help readers avoid making some of the errors that were made by me. In this article I would like to share six strategies that I have developed over time as best practices.
How to Eat an Elephant? One Bite at a Time: One of the most common misconception is that project plans must be ready before activities commence. It is however important to understand that the project plan is a living document that must be modified and updated as the project progresses. What is critical though is that a 50000 ft. view of the project must be prepared agreed and frozen with the approvals from the decision makers of the project before commencement. As a next step each individual sub section must be discussed and planned so as to match the overall plan. Trying to develop the entire project plan at once is impractical and must not be attempted.
Teamwork is Crucial: Project planning must never be done alone. The most critical step in successful project planning is to include stakeholders buy in and involvement in the development process. Working in silos and building plans on assumptions is a recipe for disaster. It is important to remember that the plan is the roadmap for the entire project and must be agreed upon by all involved.
Do not Reinvent the Wheel: Starting from scratch will not necessarily make for a better plan. In fact, too much time is often wasted on building a plan that undergoes a number of changes down the line. Leveraging existing project templates and best practices is an excellent way to reduce the initial effort in project planning.
Granularity is not always a Measure of Success: An over detailed plan tends to result in ineffective execution on highly granular activities and causes problems in the tracking process. Secondly, members are assigned to the team because they are the experts within their field of influence. Finding the right balance of detail in the plan allows for team members the flexibility to better execute their tasks in the project. As a Project Manager, your task is to “Manage” the project and not to “Micro Manage” it.
Communication is the Key: As a project manager, it is your responsibility to assure attainment of deliverables on time. As such the PMs most important task is to communicate. A PM is responsible for communicating status reports to the executives while communicating next steps, delays, revisions with the project team. This task may not be taken lightly. Just sending a project plan to all involved is not an acceptable form of communication. Creating standardize reporting documents, holding periodic meetings, displaying scoreboards, face to face meetings are some of the methods a PM can use to communicate.
Do not play the Blame Game: Pointing fingers is easy, but does not solve the problems at hand. Assigning faults for delays does not help solve the crisis but drives a chasm between team members and dissolves the cohesion that is desirable to the success of the project. The PMs primary responsibility is to motivate the team to move forward by and completing the project on time.