Greek philosophers knew that change is the only constant in life and the maxim has never held truer than in today’s business environment. The pace of change has accelerated and organisations have trimmed themselves to the bone to stay competitive and agile but too often they have trimmed not just the fat but also the muscle needed to deliver performance. Dedicated project managers weren’t a luxury organisations could not afford, it turns out. Now that organisations are relying on project management resource that is actually people being seconded from their day job – or even being expected to run projects as well as doing their day job – the cracks are beginning to show.
As organisations seek to transform from rigid, hierarchical structures to flatter, nimbler and more responsive entities there is a need to first, infuse project management with the best, most agile project managers and, secondly, permeate the project management lifecycle with agility from end to end.
Getting the best project managers on the job starts, of course, with hiring the right people. Competition for good project managers is fierce and organisations looking to fill vacant posts in a hurry will not get the cream of the crop. A strategic, planned approach to recruitment combined with internal training and development will result in the best people in the right jobs. The best people are often not those who tick all the boxes when it comes to completing training courses on project management methodologies or have an exact match to their past experience. Soft skills and a cultural fit with your organisation are equally important.
People are at the heart of successful processes. With the right people in place it is a good idea to evaluate a simple three-stage project lifecycle – comprising Plan, Do and Review – to ensure it is as agile as possible. An agile approach to the planning stage is about providing a high level view whilst also identifying opportunities to innovate to meet organisational objectives. At this stage an analysis of the skills needed and those available might well highlight development or recruitment needs.
The second stage of a project is all about delivery. Sometimes this stage can be protracted, taking months or years and incorporating many sub-cycles of ‘plan, do and review’. A strategic approach to recruitment and development is vital to ensure the right people are in place and remain there throughout this long stage.
The final review stage demands honest evaluation – what went right and what went wrong? Who performed well and who didn’t? This process is vital to creating an agile organisation – people must be able to formally learn from their experiences and the organisation needs to capitalise on the knowledge gained. Too many organisations don’t look in enough detail at the people part of the equation at this stage.
This way, organisations can identify strengths that may be capitalised on in the next project and skills gaps that are ripe for development, creating an agile organisation well placed to compete in our ever-changing marketplace.
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