Hello, readers, and welcome back to our project management series. In our last article, we started exploring the current trends successful project managers and project organizations apply to high-performing organizations. In that article, we covered the trends exhibited by the project managers. Today, we will continue by analyzing trends in successful project organizations. This would be done by studying the project management processes, organizational management, use of project management information system, etc., employed by successful organizations. We would also look at some of the challenges that surround these trends and how they can be effectively managed.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the biggest professional service firms, is often exposed to various project management frameworks from various organizations. Exposures to these project management frameworks showed that some organizations constantly deliver high results within project time and cost, while others faulted. PricewaterhouseCoopers decided to carry out a survey to determine the relationship between project management maturity and project success. The findings were quite amazing and we will analyze them in our article today.

PMP Training – Resources (Intense)

Project Management Processes/Methodology

The project management processes are a series of activities that formulate the base upon which the project management methodology is developed. Common project management processes that cut across various phases of a project are communication, phase management, planning, control, team management, procurement and integration. At this juncture, we can almost conclusively infer that if:

  1. Project management process as the basics for the project methodology is formed
  2. Good project methodology determines project success

Then

The effectiveness or non-effectiveness of the project management process is directly related to the success or failure of a project.

Research conducted by Joseph Benjamin (University of Hall) analyzed project success as a function of project management methodology. Findings from the research concluded that most project managers are unaware of the decision power they wield, as there is a strong and direct relationship between a good project management methodology and project success. In another research conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, it stated that only 77% of project organizations use a project management methodology. Also of the 77%, only 29% of them use it on all their projects, while just 40% use it on 75% of their projects.

Continuous Development

As clichéd as this might sound, it is amazing that not all organizations are into continuous development. While the benefits of continuous development on an organization’s growth can never be overemphasized, roughly half of project management organizations are involved in continuous development. More painful is the fact that most organizations are aware of the benefit, but many have not considered it priority yet such that it might be implemented within their organization. According to a research conducted by the Economist Intelligence in 2009, only 53% of project organizations agreed that they are currently looking into improving the skills and values of the project managers while a larger number, 83%, actually recognized the need for the development and saw it as a factor that can aid organizational growth. The figure below shows the result of the statistics.

Figure 1. Organizations with plans on continuous development

It is therefore not uncommon to see performing project organizations is the act of doing and not just saying especially when it comes to continuous development.

Project Management Certification.

During recruitment for project managers, not all organizations focus on the need to get a certified manager. Certified project managers have gone through a formal learning process studying the tools, techniques, processes and methodologies required in making a project successful. They also have a certification from an acknowledged body through a rigorous examination process, which has been tested and trusted. Many organizations do not understand the need for a certified manager as they believe other variables such as experience and exposure might be able to cater for it. The figures below shows the independent results of two separate researches conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Economist Independence. The research confirmed the need for certified project managers, while also showing that organizations that recruit certified project managers record a higher level of project success than those who do not.

Figure 2. Organizations’ response to the need for project management training

Figure 3. Relationship between certification and project performance

Project Management Software

Another trademark of successful project management organization is the adoption and use of project management software. According to Wikipedia, project management software is a tool that can help plan, organize, and manage resource pools and develop resource estimates. Research has shown that project management software is often adopted for single projects than multiple projects or programs. Microsoft project is also the most used project management software at 45% while in-house developed project management came a distant second at 13%. A 2004 research showed that there is a direct relationship between the use of project management software and project performance. The analysis conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers showed that 95% of highly matured project organizations use project management software as against 55% of low matured project organizations.

Customer Feedback

The importance of consumer/customer feedback in improving project processes and products has proven to be effective over time. Let’s get things straight: The only reason your organization is still in business today is because there are still customers who demand your products or services. In order to remain in business, it is therefore logical to do our best in satisfying customer’s needs. However, it’s surprising how project organizations gather loads of data about consumer feedback, but do not convert these data into workable information. Most organizations assume they understand their customers’ needs and work towards meeting these needs. According to a report on Forbes, 76% of organizations believe their customers are satisfied with their products whereas, when similar research was conducted for the customers, it was only 8% that were truly satisfied with the product/service received. Developing customer intimacy via the use of customer feedback in improving product and process has been a hallmark of successful organizations.

Organizational Type

Various types of organizational structures are used in project organizations. The most common type of organizational structures are the projectized organization, the functional organization, and the matrix organization.

The projectized organization—Here, the project managers are in control of the organization and report directly to the CEO. Each project manager has his/her team, which work on unique projects. This type of organization is normally used where the project and its delivery are the core functions of the organization.

The functional organization—This is the traditional way of organizing a business. The organization is split into various functional units, which are headed by the functional head who report to the CEO. The functional head has its employee and the chain of command is very important. Project team are built when necessary but with the approval of the functional heads.

The matrix organization is a mix of the project and functional organization and comes in three different mixes.

Strong matrix—This tends towards the project organization, where the project managers have a lot of power and can directly influence and control the project team members. Although the functional managers exist, they are less powerful in this type of matrix. The team members report directly to the project manager

Balanced matrix—The balanced matrix has a perfect mix of both the functional and the project organization. Both the project manager and the functional manager have equal control over the resource and project team members creating a balance in the organizational structure

Weak Matrix—This is the direct opposite of the strong matrix. It tends toward the functional organization and the functional manager has direct authority over the project team members. In this type of matrix, the project manager has little or no authority over the project team members.

While no organizational structure is better than the other, understanding your organization and using the right organizational structure can lead to the success or failure of a project. The projectized structure requires the project manager working and managing people of different competencies, which poses its own unique challenges, while the functional structure relegates the role of the project manager and manages people of same skill. There is, however, little bond among project team members when they come together to make a project team. Successful project organizations have been able to identify the right organizational structure to use and implement it to their advantage.

Conclusions

The saying “nothing good comes easy” has never been truer. Competition in the industry is getting stiffer and organizations are working harder to have an advantage over each other. Successful organizations are also doing their best to keep the strategies and success secrets in-house in order to maintain their advantage over other organizations.

Today we have been able to analyze some of the trends that are peculiar to successful project organizations, some of which are project methodology, use of project management software, use of customer feedback, employing certified project managers, continuous development of staff, etc. One thing, however, was common to these trends, which is the fact that many organizations are aware of what to do but lack the required discipline to carry out implement the change. Successful project organizations are disciplined project organizations and are willing to go the extra mile in doing what their competitors often overlook. Why not get disciplined today and join the league of successful organizations?

Thank you for reading and feel free to drop your question or comment in the comment box below.