Internal project managers (PMs) are a rare breed, applying their valuable mix of skills and experience to the project office’s inside workings. But though they’re expected to develop high-performing teams and oversee a broad project portfolio, they often don’t have enough time to focus on the leadership aspects of their role. Instead, they’re occupied with schedule management responsibilities.
This sets up an unfortunate scenario where planning and control activities require too much attention from the PM, leaving them with little opportunity to tackle the kinds of initiatives that would benefit the most from their expertise. The organization’s high-value strategic efforts—those with the potential to significantly impact the company’s market position in the long term—are also short-changed when PMs aren’t able to give them their full consideration.
Companies that want to utilize their internal teams to best advantage may want to look at partnering with an external expert who can take on the schedule management activities that are weighing PMs down. If your project office is exploring the benefits behind working with an outside consultancy experienced in implementing a proven control and planning methodology, consider the important value-added tasks PMs can support when they aren’t focused on schedule management.
PMs able to take a comprehensive approach to project leadership can help drive better results across the project portfolio. With increasing regulations affecting many industries, and with companies operating under tighter compliance requirements than ever, shepherding project efforts through the necessary processes can be a big job in itself. Forward-looking PMs can focus on spotting potential roadblocks early and ensuring the right actions are taken, giving the team the opportunity to move forward without delays or other negative impacts to the project’s long-term success.
In-house project teams, even those staffed with seasoned professionals, benefit tremendously from strong mentoring and thoughtful guidance. Without the everyday responsibilities of project planning and control occupying their time, PMs can help their group develop more efficient ways to accomplish their tasks and work together as a team. These PMs are also better able to nurture a culture of accountability. Both strategies build value for the organization over the long term, as a highly productive team with a strong sense of accountability will have the skills, experience, and drive to execute complex projects successfully.
When PMs put a greater emphasis on increasing engagement with stakeholders, sponsors, and business partners, it provides the team with a deeper resource pool for future projects. Maintaining robust connections with collaborators and supporters is a critical skill set for the project office, and it’s often a big factor behind getting the funding and assistance needed to achieve project success. Cultivating an engaged stakeholder base provides the Project Team with other advantages, too, such as access to better pre-project benchmarking data, improved cooperation during work disruptions, deeper insight into where challenges are likely to arise during difficult or politically-sensitive initiatives, and candid feedback that can be useful in improving the team’s performance on future projects.
By offloading schedule management, PMs can contribute more fully to strategic initiatives that add value to the organization. There are often high-level efforts key to the company’s long-term competitive strategy that can be moved forward more efficiently and with better results if internal PMs have the time to engage more consistently and with tighter focus. When PMs are available to contribute to the success of these important strategic initiatives, they can not only ensure that each project’s goals align with the organization’s broader mission, they’re also in a position to make the best use of internal resources and expertise as they develop and execute these critical-path, can’t-fail projects.