I was fortunate to participate in a webinar where project managers were asked to give real-world advice to business people, many of whom were faced with project challenges. Topics ranged from selecting the right project to invest in, to advice on saving an initiative that was in trouble. Some people were angry (thus the “Culture of Success” posts), and others were hopeful our advice would save them time and money. The questions and comments ranged from simple to the complex. I enjoyed every minute of it. However, the greatest takeaway for me was something I learned from a fellow panelist.
This co-presenter is the VP of Project Management and New Product Development for a global company of 800 people. He views project management processes as a corporate asset and a key competitive advantage. They are a strategic, core competency within the organization. Everyone in the company adheres to them; from the executive steering committee right down to the person doing the tactical tasks. The process is part of a new employee on-boarding process (level of training is dependent on their role). Changes to processes go through an approval committee and broadly communicated. Feedback is requested from different teams so only the right processes are needed and those seen as too bureaucratic are eliminated. He admits it’s not perfect, but it was better than the ad-hoc “shoot from the hip” approach the company had when he got there.
As a PMO manager, I thought and continue to think a lot about what was said. We have processes and because of the compliance & quality nature of our projects, protect those processes from deviations. When someone does do something outside the process, which has happened a few times, confusion ensues and I have to confront the offender with an uncomfortable discussion. My team continues to update processes and create new as our product line expands. But once approved, these processes are expected to be followed.
To be competitive in the market, companies need to deliver effectively, efficiently, and have some level of organizational agility given the speed of change. It’s a challenge, but one that I feel is key to organizational success. Your process is an organizational asset and should be followed and protected. Do so, and no one gets hurt!