Like it or not we all can find ourselves leading a workplace project. Our ability to successfully execute Project Management is key to the success of our businesses. As a result, we must understand what it takes to successfully manage a project. By success, I mean not only completing the project on time and within the budget but also achieve or exceed the expected results. Given that an estimated 80% of our work time is spent on projects the development of the necessary skills to do that is important to our total success as leaders.
The bad news is that according to the Project Management Institute most projects don’t succeed. They state that:
- 45 percent of projects are either past their due date or canceled
- Only 45 percent of projects that are completed meet their stated goals
- For every $100 invested in projects an unrecoverable net loss of $13.50 is realized.
So what can you do to beat those odds?
It begins with an understanding. Project management is much more than managing the process involved in bringing a project to completion. You have to lead. The people in the process cannot be pushed into performing or completing the project. You have to inspire them, engage them in full. To tap into each of their creative minds, you have to give them a reason.
So you not only have to manage the process, you have to lead the people involved in that process. They must be inspired, and they must want to engage in the process willingly and with enthusiasm. That can start by determining what inspires you about the project. Tell a story, influence them with the story to gain their trust and commitment. You have to make them want to do it; you can’t force them to do it.
Logic then says that first and foremost you have an appropriate vision statement for your project. A vision statement is nothing more than how you see the outcome of the project. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. A simple, clear picture of the outcome you are trying to achieve will suffice. The key is to paint enough of a word picture that your team can envision what they are working toward. A simple, clear vision statement eliminates confusion and misunderstanding. It can also drive the engagement of the Team as they buy into your vision and adopt it as their own.
Reviewing the information above one can quickly conclude that the biggest challenge for any project is its execution. Execution starts with the Project Manager. It is not uncommon to see them take on the role of observer instead of leader. Their role is to do three key things:
- Getting the right people
- Setting the right direction
- Leading the operation of the project.
A significant part of that involves delegation and trust. The Project Manager (PM) must not only trust themselves; they must trust those who are on their team. They have to trust themselves to choose the right people, trust those people and delegate the ability and the authority to those people to execute. PM’s that over micro-manage or refuses to allow others to lead actively and participate will fail in execution. The skills PM’s must master are:
- Know their employees and their business.
- Practice realism.
- Set clear goals and establish priorities.
- Follow up and through.
- Reward those who succeed.
- Grow the skills and knowledge of their Team.
- Know and trust yourself themselves.
Another issue is the destructive cycle of start-stop. Why does this happen? While there are many different reasons for this, a few are:
- Lack of Team Involvement
- Lack of clarity
- Inability to make a decision
- Poor Prioritization
- Little or no Accountability
What can You do about it?
Generally, a 5-phase approach can be used to develop a roadmap to the execution of initiatives or strategy. I prefer one that I learned through SixSigma. In simple terms these phases are:
Phase 1 – Explain – People do things if they understand their value. Describing or demonstrating the keep or core processes involved is crucial.
Phase 2 – Communicate – It is critical that PM’s define their vision and the project.
Phase 3 – Measure – You must determine how you will measure the results of the project.
Phase 4 – Commit – This step is designed to create an organization that aligns strategy and initiatives with the entire organization.
Phase 5 – Do – You must commit to execution.
Successfully managing your projects not only helps ensure success but also establishes credibility with your employees. Further, the successful execution of these projects provides a financial return to your business.