Project Management – Using the 3 C’s

Project Management

The number of projects and the amount of time spent managing projects is increasing in business worldwide to provide focus and flexibility. Some organisations have marshalled most of their resources into multidisciplinary project teams. Projects are often critical components of the performing organisation’s business strategy, so strong skills in project management are important employee attributes.

  • Why do organisations need project management?
  • How can good project management skills help you?
  • Do you want to tackle projects with confidence?

People are faced with a range of projects throughout their life. In organisations in the current fast paced business world it is critical that results are delivered on time, within budget and to the right quality. Increasingly managers and staff are involved in managing projects even though they may not be called project managers. By applying the skills of project management in your personal and professional life you can maximise performance and ensure the best results every time. Project management enables you to focus on priorities, monitor progress and performance, overcome difficulties and problems and adapt to change. In fact nowadays projects are the vehicle for driving change in many organisations.

Key aspects of running projects effectively include:

  • having a clear scope of work with a defined start and end
  • developing a realistic project plan with a clear method for meeting the project objectives
  • acquiring and managing project resources effectively including people, time, money, equipment and supplies
  • developing a high performing project team
  • effectively engaging and communicating with all project stakeholders
  • minimising the risks of conducting the project
  • ensuring quality is defined and achieved.

Nowadays projects are undertaken at all levels of the organisation. They may involve a single person or many thousands. They may be completed quickly or take years to complete. Projects may involve a single unit of one organisation or may cross organisational boundaries. Some examples of projects include:

  • developing a new product or services
  • effecting a change in structure, staffing, or style of an organisation
  • developing or acquiring a new or modified information system
  • constructing a building or facility
  • running a campaign for promoting a product or service
  • implementing a new business procedure or process.

In this environment of management through projects, people require a range of skills in order to operate successfully. These include “people skills” to allow team members to resolve conflicts, negotiate resources and outcomes, influence and persuade others and provide effective feedback to others. In our experience, these skills are sometimes overlooked in favour of learning how to use project management tools and processes. In practice, project managers and team members need both technical and interpersonal skills sets. These include:

  • customer relationship skills to effectively integrate the customer into the project
  • team work and leadership skills
  • communication and people skills, including influence and persuasion
  • project management skills and expertise in use of the tools of project management
  • budgeting and/or financial management skills.

One way of looking at projects is to split the functions into the 3 C’s – communication, co-ordination and collaboration. Traditional project management focuses on the techniques of estimating, planning, scheduling, tracking, cost control, managing risk and reporting. These are very important and serve as the fundamentals of the co-ordination function – what is to happen and when, who is doing what, who needs to know, what could go wrong and how much will it cost and benefit us?

Perhaps the weakest link in many project management environments has been the ability of project teams to effectively communicate among themselves and with the customer, whether they are geographically or functionally dispersed. New focus has to be placed on ways to help project teams better communicate across virtual, geographical, functional or technological barriers in order to improve the productivity with which project issues are identified, discussed, actioned, assigned and resolved. It is great to have geographically diverse teams meet personally at least once at the start of the project to establish relationships and this really helps with later online communication. The investment in this results in improved productivity and so is very worthwhile.

Collaboration is about pulling together the knowledge and resources of the organisation in order to fulfil the project, and working in partnership with customer and suppliers to this end. This involves reviewing systems and processes and breaking down the functional silos that often exist in organisations. For some projects it can be most effective to have stakeholders meaningfully participate in the project and ensure successful implementation. Thus project staff need good influence, negotiation and conflict resolution skills to manage the conflicting demands and expectations of stakeholders.

Improving an organisation’s project management capabilities is rapidly becoming a central strategy. People can find it very stressful to work on a fast track, multi-disciplinary project with two or more people to report to. They often find the “people side” the most difficult part of managing and working on projects. This is where training and mentoring can help. In our experience of working with clients from both the public and private sectors, staff are very receptive to learning the interpersonal and technical skills that allow them to operate more successfully on projects.

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