Driving one project to a successful completion is an important accomplishment. Unfortunately, too often those victories are overshadowed by other challenges, such as projects that are delivered late or that never meet all of the stated objectives. And because project teams and executive staff already have a lot to oversee, it can be difficult to step back and take a broader view of the project portfolio and find ways to implement project improvements.
When an organization decides to put a focus on continuous project improvements, its project management efforts don’t just move ahead—the entire infrastructure behind project management reaps key benefits in the long run. If your team or your company’s executive staff are still considering whether it’s worth the time and attention to implement a continuous improvement process around the organization’s project management efforts, consider some of the advantages everyone can gain.
How can your project team benefit?
The most effective improvement programs include reviews at the portfolio level. When these become a standard part of the process, important benefits begin to appear. For example, recurring review activities allow PMs to develop better communication channels between the team and its stakeholders, sponsors, and the organization’s executive group. And because these discussions will occur at regular intervals going forward, healthy information flows will be supported into the future, too.
In addition, as each review is carried out, stakeholders at all levels become better informed about things such as early planning efforts, rigorous project controls, resource allocation, accurate task duration estimates, and the need to carefully monitor staff workloads throughout the project lifecycle. When stakeholders are knowledgeable about the project management process, team members can spend less time educating decision makers about why these issues are important. Instead they can put their energy into evaluating how strategic choices can be more effective and efficient in subsequent projects, or where future efforts can be better aligned with the company’s mission.
Executives also realize important benefits
It isn’t just the project team that gets positive results out of continuous project improvements. The leadership group also derives significant advantages when they directly support and participate in the organization’s project management improvement efforts.
One big gain is increased critical awareness around the health of the project portfolio and high-impact initiatives. With each look across the portfolio, executives build on their insight into project performance. Reviewing completed initiatives enhances the value of the exercise, as the company’s leaders become familiar with the team’s successes as well as recurring challenges. This results in another key benefit: because senior staff members are acquainted with the ins and outs of the entire portfolio, there will be fewer last-minute surprises. Risks, concerns, and other potential issues will be visible in advance and executives will be able to help head off larger problems.
Executives will also have access to the data they need to drive strategic project and business decisions. When the executive team participates in periodic project portfolio reviews, the knowledge they gain helps them move the company’s mission forward. By evaluating the success of past projects and the status of current efforts, senior staff can make better choices to drive those efforts that will deliver the most meaningful results.
Another advantage—one that sometimes isn’t fully recognized until after the first portfolio review has been conducted—is that executives are able to gain insight into the performance of the company’s project investments. They can see how funding allocations are faring and where the organization is getting the best return on its spending. The leadership team becomes well-positioned to trim poorly performing projects and direct resources more effectively.