Richard has successfully driven project and portfolio management initiatives across several multinational organizations. He successfully builds executive support while creating a network of engaged project managers. The outcome is world-class project management skills and processes across the organization. In his experience, a key aspect is to recognize and harness the multitude of project management skills the organization already has, rather than coming in with a blank-slate approach and leaning on training, or defining one singular best practice for all to adhere to. Richard emphasizes that project managers may employee a variety of different methodologies, such as Agile, PRINCE2, PMBOK, or Six Sigma, but he sees merits in all of these and encourages communication across these groups. Richard finds that this can be very effective because project managers often say, "I wish I had more contact with the PMs in group X." This inherent need for networking can create an opportunity to build a lively project management network within the firm.
Richard can build on this group of interested project managers with some light structure to foster growth and collaboration. Examples of this include the creation of a freely accessible internal project management portal with the latest academic thinking, driving mentoring for less-experienced project managers, or hosting a speaker series with leading thinkers. Bringing project managers together and exposing them to the latest research and ideas in project management can quickly spark innovation and a lead to a lot of "Wouldn't it be cool if... ?" conversations among project managers, especially in organizations with smart, entrepreneurial employees. From that point, it is possible to start to discuss tools and processes for realizing these ambitions.
However, Richard's processes are not solely focused on driving groundswell interest in project and portfolio management. He also provides hard facts to the senior executives within the firm who typically have a "prove it" mentality. Here, Richard launches deep, robust research projects within specific groups to define the tangible benefits of project management based on peer-reviewed academic research. This is combined with deep, survey-based analysis of particular groups, analyzing their skills in areas of project management today to the level of watertight statistical precision. This then enables Richard to have the numbers to make statements such as, "Improved collaboration on project management within this division could provide us with $20 million in incremental project delivery performance per year." That sort of rigorous analysis provides clear motivation at the executive level for enhanced project management within the organization.
Combining the executive enthusiasm with the groundswell of project manager interest gives Richard the opportunity and the means to then improve tools and processes within the organization. However, here Richard takes a flexible approach, rather than bringing in a complex system overnight. Success is once again achieved in stages, first building a central inventory of projects, with powerful, self-service, real-time reporting against it, and then thinking about the most effective portfolio prioritization process based on what the project inventory data show. He mentions that executives love the real-time data that they can easily create themselves by dragging and dropping items into a chart format or double-clicking on a particular value to learn more, rather than having to go to a business analyst with some requirements and wait days for the data to come back, as occurs with some older business intelligence tools.
Richard is also careful not to mandate too explicitly. People might come to him and say, "Give me a process," and rather than mandate a specific process, he tells them to "take the most efficient path," emphasizing the need to adapt to the situation and "expose people to different ways of thinking about projects." Richard is careful to build a process that has the core elements to support reporting across the portfolio and a consistent and readily understandable taxonomy for project information, but at the same time enables every division to customize the process to its unique business needs. Richard also looks for innovative ways for the project
portfolio to deliver value, rather than simply improving on time, in scope, and on budget delivery. He thinks about using the portfolio data to better classify projects for tax purposes, which across a portfolio in the hundreds of millions can have a real financial impact, or the use of the organization's skilled project managers to support the company's philanthropic efforts by managing projects for nonprofits.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.