Enthusiastic backing from sponsors and champions is often a primary factor behind a project’s success. Another group that can lend an elevated level of advocacy to PMP®s is the executive team. With their influence and authority, high-ranking members of the organization’s leadership body can offer support that goes above and beyond what’s available from other stakeholders.
Unfortunately for those in the Project Team, it’s sometimes difficult to secure solid assistance from the executive group. Part of the issue revolves around time—it’s both valuable and scarce, and dedicating calendar space to project activities is a challenge. In addition, the fundamentals of project management may not be within every executive’s area of expertise, leaving them scant understanding about where their guidance may be most useful and how much positive impact their clout can generate.
If your organization wants to boost the effectiveness and efficiency (not to mention the reputation) of its center of excellence, consider where—and how—increased executive support can make a real difference.
Few stakeholders are able to give projects the kind of broad visibility that comes from an engaged executive team. Unless the benefits are heralded by people at the top of the reporting chain, many projects, even those impacting the organization at its deepest levels, aren’t always recognized for the value they deliver. This can create problems for project managers, who are left to put their time and energy into convincing reluctant stakeholders of the positive results that are to come. It’s particularly problematic when end users and others impacted by the project aren’t convinced of its merits. Executives who give these projects good visibility across the company will help PMP®s move their efforts forward and may open up new avenues of support among stakeholders who wouldn’t normally give their full participation.
The strategic input available from the organization’s leadership is a crucial component in project success. Identifying critical goals, establishing expectations, and working through challenges can quickly go off track if the project manager and other leaders within the center of excellence haven’t been given a good understanding of the organization’s strategic vision and direction. Executives who take the time to candidly share their insight into where the company is going and which market drivers have the potential to impact those plans will be giving their PMP®s the kind of valuable input necessary to execute projects successfully.
Critical-path resources are often approved at the executive level. In addition to the more traditional funding and staffing authorizations, the leadership group can also provide the center of excellence with assets in the form of internal cooperation and support. Will the accounting team agree to early budget accruals or an abbreviated signature matrix only if directed to do so by an executive? This is the kind of assistance that increases efficiency, eliminates difficult roadblocks, and enables the project team to execute complex efforts in the most cost-effective way possible.
Those executives who are engaged with the Project Team will give project managers far more opportunities to add value to the organization than if they maintain a more hands-off approach. When PMP®s receive clear direction on aligning projects with the organization’s strategic goals, their efforts have the greatest positive impact. Project office leaders who are empowered to maneuver within the company’s processes and procedures can more effectively eliminate waste and make the best use of the team’s time and expertise. Executives who support PMP®s in offloading those tasks that could be more effectively completed by others—either within the Project Team or to an external partner—will see the benefits in the form of higher-level efforts executed by their center of excellence.