The drive to increase transparency is a top-level mission in many organizations. It’s also a priority for Project Teams, where activities typically occur under intense scrutiny and where PMP®s frequently work with first-time internal customers who may not understand how projects are executed or what the team’s role is in the grand scheme of things. This translates into an ongoing effort to not only be transparent in everything from how decisions are made to where contingency dollars spent, but also to maintain a robust level of transparency even as the list of stakeholders changes from one project to the next.
As the project office continues to evolve to meet the needs and expectations of executives, end users, and business partners, keeping pace with changing transparency initiatives may present a number of challenges. Working with an outside consultancy can give the project team new ways to pursue its transparency mission while addressing some of the obstacles the Project Team is likely to encounter.
Be more transparent within the communication flow. Much of a project team’s transparency efforts center around the sharing of information, whether it’s with sponsors and others within the organization’s leadership team, or among end users who are being directly impacted by the project. Determining which information should be shared, when, and with whom, forms an important foundation for many other transparency initiatives.
External experts bring with them a deep knowledge of how best to maintain strong and transparent communication channels with a variety of stakeholders, each of which is likely to benefit from different types of knowledge transfer and at different intervals. Better transparency can be achieved by fine-tuning how and when data is shared with (and gathered from) each stakeholder group.
Boost transparency with more effective presentations and events. Project Teams have numerous opportunities to interact with key project stakeholders. While much of that interaction occurs in the form of memos, e-mails, and status updates, the team can also benefit from increasing the effectiveness of any discussions or presentations that occur during real-time events and web-based communications (some of which may be delivered on demand).
In addition to the facilitation skills offered by an outside consultancy, an external expert will also be able to determine where different presentation styles can most effective—those given during project kick-off meetings are very different from those held at an open house, for example. The consultancy can also help the team improve the data gathered for its presentations so that specific stakeholder groups have better insight into the metrics that most interest them. Transparency increases as a result of offering more targeted and understandable information.
Leverage the position of a neutral third party for additional transparency. Internal politics and policies can sometimes hinder the Project Team’s transparency efforts, often because they aren’t in step with the current culture of the organization and sometimes because they simply haven’t kept up with the latest technology. There may also be times when factions within the organization act on a self-serving desire to limit how and where information is shared, or when influential individuals request changes that aren’t supported by the project’s scope or funding.
One benefit of developing a partnership with an outside consultancy is that they can offer a neutral perspective, one that is outside the sphere of influence of internal politics and other organizational pressures. This provides valuable context and better transparency across the project team and its stakeholder groups because everyone is able to view requests, concerns, issues, challenges, and even metrics and other benchmarking data in a new way, without entrenched thinking clouding the picture or political pressures limiting the discussions that occur.