Shift Your Project Teams Focus Without Losing Your Roots

As organizations change and grow, it’s common for the project portfolio of the Project Team to also begin to evolve. Where once the team might have primarily executed small projects supporting only a few stakeholder groups, they may now be tackling highly visible, complex projects that span locations in multiple countries. Or the Project Team may have shifted from a focus on a limited R&D environment to executing projects involving large-scale manufacturing operations. The addition of regulatory oversight, increased market pressures, expanded financial obligations, and competitive setbacks can all impact the type of projects coming through the Project Team.

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No matter why or how these changes occur, almost any project office could one day find itself facing something of an identity crisis. Who are we? What value do we bring? And how can we continue to find success in this new environment without losing what made us successful in the past? Experiencing an evolution may not be a choice for your Project Team, but how the team handles those changes is entirely up to them. A handful of simple strategies can help your project office build on past performance and allow the team to leverage everything it has learned as the organization steps into the future.

Staying true to your roots first requires that you know what you’re good at—not just as a team but also at the individual level. Take some time to look back through post-mortem surveys and customer feedback from past projects to identify what stakeholders think the project office does well. Have you developed a reputation for outstanding communication? Are end users particularly impressed with your ability to minimize the disruptions to their work or production schedules? Each PMP® should likewise examine where they possess specific skills that have been valuable in the past. Maintaining these strengths as the team tackles the next phase of the Project Team’s evolution will help your customers remain engaged. It’s also an approach that gives the group a leg up on finding success as new challenges appear on the horizon.

To help customers and stakeholders evolve along with you, do your best to maintain some consistency in your communication chain. The types of projects you’re handling may be changing but the groups you support will still be looking to you for information. They may be seeking status updates or they might need help understanding benchmarking data. It’s likely they’ll have questions about timeframes and project scope. If you’ve designated a few team members to function as point people in the past for inquiries and data distribution, continue to use them in that capacity as much as possible. Your customers will appreciate that their routine hasn’t gone through a complete upheaval and your team will be able to sustain the kind of communication that keeps stakeholders happy in an increasingly demanding environment.

Though your Project Team is may be taking on new types of projects, look for opportunities to continue your trademark activities. Project offices often have one or two signature moves. It might be a highly festive open house at the end of each project or, as sometimes happens in small organizations, a company-wide invitation for employees’ family members to volunteer for specific project duties (creating posters for public presentations, etc.). These events are often something stakeholders look forward to and they would certainly notice if they suddenly stopped. Your team should continue to stamp its personality on projects, even as other aspects of the Project Team’s portfolio begin to change. Activities like this are also fantastic opportunities to cultivate new fans, as the type of customer and sponsor may be evolving along with the projects.

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