As a project management expert, I often get to see first hand how an organization measures their effectiveness in project management. I find it intriguing that so many of them, don’t really understand what they are trying to measure. They just look at their list of projects and if they all get done, then they are successful. If they don’t they are not successful. Many don’t measure it at all. Measuring project management effectiveness (PME) is important, but overlooked by many. What about your organization?
Measuring an organization’s PME is difficult because to do it correctly requires putting the elephant on the table. This means looking at how members of the C-suite, or the Executive Team, work together. If the team is dysfunctional, this is not an easy thing to do. So what goes into assessing an organization’s PME?
There are many things that should be considered when measuring PME and they should cover the entire gamut of the project life cycle. If you’re involved with project management at all, I’m sure this list will come as no surprise. You may be tempted to skip the rest of this article, but I encourage you to read on before passing this by. Here are the important areas to examine:
- What is a project?/Project Selection
- Stakeholder/Sponsor Effectiveness
- Project Prioritization
- Project Resourcing
- Project Scoping/Project Estimates
- Scope/Change Management
- Organization Change Management
- Project Tracking/Earned Value
- Leadership (Conflict resolution, team building, meeting effectiveness, communication)
- Contract/Vendor Management
These are pretty generic and are nothing new. So why bother write, let alone read, another article on this? Well, the primary reason is that despite being so straightforward, many organizations don’t do this well. So let’s just tackle the first one on the list and see if you agree.
What is a Project?/Project Selection
While this may seem like an easy question, it often gives organizations problems. Why? Because it encroaches on the turf of the Executive Team and/or the Owner. To manage PME, the types of projects, and the money spent on them, must be controlled. Owners and Executives don’t like that word when it comes to controlling their actions. Don’t get me wrong. They understand the need for it. They just don’t like it when it applies to them. They are bright, ambitious, talented. Some of them are visionaries, others operational geniuses. As such, they don’t like to be boxed in or told how to operate.
The Annual Business Retreat
Have you ever been to an annual retreat or been involved in setting the strategic direction of the organization for the next year? I have. Some are effective. Many are a waste of time.
Let me ask you, if this is a good way to run a business? You ask your Executive Team to prepare their strategic and operational goals for the next year. You bring them to a resort and a hire a consultant to facilitate the session. Each executive gets up and puts on a powerpoint presentation accompanied by graphs and charts as to what their goals are and the projects they hope to accomplish. Each executive has to defend his or her actions. What is wrong or missing in this approach?
The answer? Project Metrics. To be effective, more information needs to be presented at this meeting. Not only must the question of “Why? be asked, but the question of “How” must also be addressed? Here is the first step in measuring your organization’s PME. Set up effective Annual Planning Sessions. To be effective the following questions must be addressed:
- Is the strategic direction of the company crystal clear?
- What projects are going to be considered at this meeting?
- What is the cost threshold for a project at this level?
- How are projects that are too small for this meeting being considered/measured?
- Can each project be DIRECTLY tied to the strategic direction of the organization?
- What is the cost of each project going be? More importantly, how was this determined?
- What does the enterprise resource loading look like? How was this put together?
- What are the drivers behind the dates of the projects?
- How are ALL the projects prioritized?
- Where on the project list, is a line drawn that says that the organization can’t accomplish these projects without more cash or resources?
- Does the organization have the expertise to carry out these projects?
- How is organizational change being addressed?
- Can the organization realistically absorb all the projects on the list?
- Are there carryovers from last year that are still in progress that will use resources allocated for new projects?
This is a start to measuring PME. It requires the Executive Team to buy into this process. It brings more operational focus to what used to be just a dog and pony show for the executives.
Stay tuned for upcoming articles on measuring PME.
All the best!
All the time!