I have spent the last nine years in a large corporate environment, with responsibility for improving project management practices. Before that I was a management consultant, and a large part of my consultancy work involved project management (as well as telecommunications network design, marketing, and various other disciplines).
Based on that experience, I have concluded that building a “culture of PM excellence” requires three things: Standards, Development and Quality.
The mention of “standards” might have lost most of my readers (both of you!) before we even got started. But it isn’t actually that scary. Standards are really “How we do things around here.” They can be detailed or lightweight. They can be based on an industry standard (Prince2 or PMI PMBOK, perhaps) or proprietary.
Standards can include a methodology (horrible word!), a handbook, a bunch of templates, and perhaps a process description.
Standards need to be communicated, and that leads to Development.
Development is about helping people to become excellent project managers – for the good of the projects, the organisation, and the career aspirations of the individuals. It includes communications activities – conferences, seminars, webinars, newsletters – as well as providing the PM community with a career structure, training opportunities, and possibly an accreditation scheme. Coaching and mentoring are also essential parts of the development toolkit.
Next, we need to monitor the development of the people and the application of the standards, as a means of improving quality.
Quality mechanisms include Project Heathchecks, Risk Reviews, Lessons Learnt workshops, and other supportive interventions. These techniques help to ensure the success of individual projects, as well as contributing to the development of individual project managers. There will also be opportunities to improve the standards themselves – for example by recommending changes to the project management process.
These are the topics that I will be exploring further in this blog. The approach will be pragmatic, based on experience. Project management should not be complex, and it should be fun.
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