Jun 17, 2013

Research Study Underscores the Value of Focusing on the "Why" of Projects ... Not Just the How

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin in Culture & Change Management, Portfolio Management, Project Management Research | 1 Comment

Asking why a project is necessary, why it is high (or low) priority, and why cost outranks quality (or vice versa) can yield a wealth of information.

From participation to publicity, we've been gratified by the response to our new study, The State of Project Portfolio Management 2013. As I noted in an earlier post, we received almost 10 times the number of survey participants as a similar survey a decade ago; the webinar presenting the study results had a record attendance; and the study results have been featured in Projects@Work and other media outlets.

Gratified - but not surprised, because PPM is a subject whose time has come. As the study reveals, by 2014 approximately 85% of companies will have PPM in place, making it a mainstream practice. Once limited and esoteric, PPM is now becoming a regular part of project management practice; so much so that even our basic text on the topic, Project Management Essentials, includes an improved chapter on it, urging new and aspiring project managers to familiarize themselves with the "why" of projects, not merely the "how."  PPM is just one example of the trend towards a project management practice, and project manager skills, that focuses more on business results and less on Gantt charts.

Now, I'm not knocking Gantt charts - far from it. The basic tools of scheduling and budgeting, the core disciplines of project management are as important as ever. But they are basic ... they are core. They aren't the whole ball game. As projects and programs are increasingly recognized to be engines of growth and innovation (read: survival), the practices and the practitioners must take a broader view of their sponsoring organizations and their own work. No project is an island, entire of itself, to paraphrase John Donne: it works within an expansive ecosystem of departments, programs, divisions, organizations, cultural settings and the global marketplace. PPM requires us to not only manage projects but to select, balance and prioritize them. And that's a good thing, because just because we can do something doesn't mean we should. Asking why a project is necessary, why it is high (or low) priority, and why cost outranks quality (or vice versa) can yield a wealth of information ... some of it surprising or even unwelcome.

But that's the state of project management today.



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1 Comment on The State of PPM 2013

Debbie Bigelow Crawford says:

In the past year, I have presented quite a bit on “Managing Projects Outcomes for Business Impacts”.  I have been amazed at the number of project managers who have never participated in the business case, and are simply given directions to “meet the deliverables”. Giving project managers the “permission” to start asking “why” this project was selected from the portfolio, and “what” the intended benefits might be will make a world of difference in not only the outcome, but how they manage the whole process. Kudos to those project managers who know enough and are confident enough to ask those questions.  So glad to see that this new approach is paving the way for a new “state of project management”!

Posted on June 19, 2013 at 2:14 pm

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