Groundwork for a Successful Business: Project Management
When I initially shared with peers that I was joining Project Management Academy, the reactions were varied and surprising. A friend who runs a software development team rolled his eyes and grunted, “We have a project management office and all they do is get in the way of our development.” Next up, a CEO of a training company said, “Project Management is an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy – we do fine without it.” These rejections of project management as a valued skill made me question my job choice. I told myself, that perspective has to change because business success follows project success. In the current environment of constant innovation and digital transformation strong project skills are required just to compete, let alone thrive. If work is more complex with more collaboration across diverse groups do we not need project management more than ever?
One reason joining a project management training company is exciting is the market need for project management and underlying project management skills such as leadership, organization, communication, problem-solving, planning, and relationship building. Burning Glass highlights these skills in their Top 20 skills listed in US job postings, with the specific discipline of project management in that Top 20. How could employers of all types need these skills, but my business peers see no need for project management?
I decided to do some research to figure out why the discrepancy. The Project Management Institute (PMI)®, the global organization for the profession, collects data from across all industries and roles. PMI’s 2020 Pulse of the Profession®, shows organizations with high maturity in project management practices met their project goals 77% of the time, versus 56% for organizations with low project management maturity. Data shows a project management practice with employees using project management skills leads to business success.
Why then the gap around knowing what project management brings to a business? Likely it is one of lack of understanding for both project managers and other professionals. Project managers need to speak the language of the business; and business leaders need to leverage the skills of the project manager. Clearer line of sight into the impact of project management to the organization with better communication from project managers could unlock the full business value of project management.
Harvard Business Review Book author, Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez, a prominent voice for the importance of project management in strategy execution and business success, lays out the importance of sponsor engagement in projects in his article.
Knowledge of project management best practices in conjunction with related skills of organization, communication, decision-making, and problem solving are keys to having talent that enables the business to thrive. Leaders recognizing project management practices, tools, and skills as not just “nice to have’s” but required for market competitiveness and success, can guide their organization to a bright future.
- Formulas (EAC, EMV, PV, ROI)
- Resources (leveling, breakdown structure, smoothing, calendar, acquire)
- Analysis (reserve, variance, multi-criteria, sensitivity)
The skills underlying project management and project management itself have value in any size organization, and in any industry. Consider these examples:
- The marketing department uses project management practices to organize the multiple resources and schedules for a marketing campaign.
- An investment banker manages a due diligence process using tracking tools and quality assurance methods.
- A construction project manager must assign resources based on material availability within an overall schedule.
It does not need to be called “project management” to be managing your work. Any business with budgets, clients, schedules, and resources needs proven project management processes at the forefront of what they do.
Jason Cassidy, PMP, is the Chief Executive Officer of Educate 360 and Project Management Academy.