Project Managers and Executives Dont Speak the Same Language

In this new world of PPM, we are looking not only for projects that are managed well but also for projects that are right for the firm. So we have formed a partnership between the project-oriented people in the PMO and the business-oriented people, represented by the governance council. My experience has been that the design and implementation of a PPM capability has often been derailed for the simple reason that the two groups do not speak the same language (as well as having a different focus).

To illustrate this, picture yourself as working within the PMO. When you report to others about how your project is going, do you focus on schedule and costs? Do you talk about resource utilization or scope changes? Surely these are important items. As project managers, we are taught to communicate these key items to management as a measure of whether the project is progressing successfully. They still are important—a gauge of project health. But they don't always reflect the project's true impact on the business.

When communicating to executives, you need to focus on the terms that reflect how the project is contributing to the larger set of objectives of the enterprise. How is the project contributing to growth, competitive advantage, revenue and cash flow, effective use of all resources, and key strategic initiatives? Focus more on benefits, revenue, and return on investment than on costs. The project end date may not be as important as the window of opportunity.

For each person with whom you communicate, think about how that person gets measured and views success. Then design custom communications for each in the language that he or she uses. One of the first tasks of the governance council will be to develop a set of terms and metrics that will form the basis of the communication stream that supports the PPM process.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

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.

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