The pace of change happening within the business landscape today means that long-standing project approval processes now have the potential to be minefields of gaps, conflicts, and miscalculations. Everything from supply chain disruptions to technology innovations to new work arrangements have changed the way projects are executed, and these factors—along with many others—have diminished the effectiveness of some traditional review and approval practices.
Companies can experience big changes in their operations and their competitive environments for any number of reasons. An effective and meaningful project approval process is one that’s regularly reviewed, revised, and improved to keep up with that evolution. Even mature organizations need to stay current and ensure that standards for project approval don’t become obsolete.
If your project approval process hasn’t been reviewed in a while, consider these strategies to enhance the steps you use to give initiatives the go-ahead.
Revisit IT’s role in project assessments. In some organizations, IT isn’t invited to weigh in on proposed efforts unless sponsors feel the project is directly focused on technology improvements. But today’s heavy reliance on technology tools and digital services calls for a more comprehensive approach, and very few projects in the modern environment don’t have some tie-in to elements such as software, infrastructure, automation, or artificial intelligence.
To be sure your organization can effectively leverage technology as a business enabler, bring IT into the discussion early. Your technology pros should have an opportunity to review the project’s requirements and assess how related issues—integrations, cybersecurity, data privacy, bandwidth, network traffic, and others—should be handled. This way your team knows that technology factors are properly vetted, addresses, and planned for within the project’s scope.
Consider where compliance mandates may impact your project. Regulatory requirements are always evolving, and even sectors that haven’t historically been a focus of compliance actions are finding themselves juggling a growing list of mandates. The expanded scope of legislative requirements and regulatory oversight has also made this area of focus a higher priority in industries already accustomed to compliance issues.
Consumer and employee privacy laws, health and safety regulations, and environmental impact rules are just a few of the mandates you may need to include in your project reviews. Rather than find out after you begin that your initiative has a gaping hole around compliance—making you more likely to incur big expenses and experience frustrating delays to resolve the issues—make regulatory matters a standard part of your project approval process.
Take a deeper look into supply chain assumptions and challenges. Forecasting demand for and consumption of materials and equipment is nothing new for project managers, but the current landscape adds significant complexity to those discussions. Resource selection and availability continues to be highly dynamic and market pressures are further testing the resilience of the supply chain like never before.
Rather than identifying just one contingent source for supplies, for example, businesses may want to expand their approval requirements so that pipeline projects have several alternate supply points at the ready.
Reassess how projects tackle issues related to staffing and labor. The shift to remote work has upended many traditional employee recruiting and vendor onboarding practices. Your review process should take these changes into consideration, including the applicability of regional limitations in today’s climate as well as updated cost data, to ensure the project isn’t hamstrung by outdated hiring practices or overly narrow vendor selection. You may also consider requiring that proposed projects have contingency plans around how activities can be resequenced or reassigned in the event that local health guidance or other factors render the original labor plan unworkable.