What needs to change in the UK in order for projects to run more effectively?
Project product marketing manager
We all do! There’s a new generation of project management that reaches far beyond old-school individual projects hidden away in the IT department. The distinction between project management in the traditional sense and portfolio management as it’s emerging is an important one, and, although it’s a phenomenon that isn’t new, digital transformation represents a recurring and crucial conversation in the business landscape.
While we can hire more people and adopt new tools to manage our projects, if the whole organisation isn’t willing to embrace change, those projects will continue to miss deadlines, be over budget and never actually achieve the intended goal. After all, people, not organisations, drive change, which means everyone needs to be involved when it comes to improving and implementing more effective project and portfolio management (PPM). That’s why we recommend all our customers adopting Microsoft Project Online to engage with one of our PPM partners to support their digital transformation journey.
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Association for Project Management
Millions of projects are already running effectively in the UK delivering change and benefit to society – in fact, our new study with PwC, The Golden Thread, indicates that projects contribute £156 billion to the UK economy, with project management employing almost one in 12 UK workers.
That said, there is definitely room for improvement. We need to recognise that raising the standards of project management, through, for example, chartership, will help. But equally critical to success is the environment in which projects, programmes and portfolios operate. Many projects are started without clear goals and outcomes in place, with inadequate funding, or funds that have been agreed before the true nature of the project is completely understood, and led by sponsors without a full understanding of what is required. If we could make improvements in these areas, as well as ensuring project professionals have the right skills, then project outcomes would immediately improve, delivering a greater benefit to society.
PPM product ambassador
Leadership and communication skills need more emphasis and can support the delivery of project management methods in organisations. Agility cannot just be a buzzword – there needs to be specific support and processes in place across the organisation to embed agile ways of working, including sponsorship guidance.
The use of project end-reviews is low. Lack of resources and time have been cited as the main reason, but other factors include senior management being more concerned with delivery, a general lack of interest in project reviews and small or simple projects not always being seen to require them. Project reviews need to happen, though, so teams can avoid the pitfalls that have occurred in the past. This will increase their chances of success.
The PPM function should be lobbying the organisation to ensure they have representation at the most senior level. However, beyond mere representation, senior managers need to appreciate the work project managers do and understand the challenges that they face.
Cindy W Anderson
Vice president, brand management
Project Management Institute
To increase project effectiveness, the UK needs to ensure that its workforce is equipped with the right digital skillsets. Although the UK is recognised as having a technologically capable and intellectually agile labour force, there are certain skillsets that will be increasingly important in the coming years. Our recent Project Manager of the Future report found that the top digital-age skills include data science, security and privacy knowledge, legal and regulatory compliance, and the ability to make data-driven decisions.
Only 29 per cent of UK organisations already prioritise the development of these digital skills, which is comparable with the global average of 33 per cent, but offers incredible opportunity for UK organisations to gain competitive advantage. We call these leading organisations project management technology quotient (PMTQ) innovators, which are defined by always-on technical curiosity, all-inclusive leadership and a future-proof talent pool.
When the number of innovator organisations grows, more projects run more effectively and drive more value and business outcomes.
Business agility is even more crucial in the UK, as Brexit may bring economic uncertainty, digital disruption and other challenging situations that force change. Increasingly, organisations can expect to see major shifts in business conditions, the competitive landscape and their customers’ expectations. Enabling agility and improving working practices are absolutely crucial to achieving strategic goals and business objectives. This is only possible with better collaboration, visibility and engagement – from the C-suite to the frontlines of the business. Enterprises need to establish their vision and ensure teams have the impetus and flexibility to execute it by keeping initiatives and projects on track and aligned with the business.
Companies need to address why a third to half of all UK projects fail. Management teams must strive to refine ways of working by gathering insights from the planning phase of any project or initiative. It is vital that they establish a feedback loop to avoid repeating past mistakes and avoid pitfalls and behaviours that stand in the way of potential success.