Project Management Institute

The big move



Across the world, we have many more similarities than some may think. Last month, I interviewed three PMP-certified colleagues from different multinational organizations—Hewlett Packard, Computer Associates and AUNA, which are changing very fast. Their cultures are shifting from product-oriented to solution-oriented. That change is affecting each project manager dramatically, regardless if they are based in Italy, Spain or the United Kingdom.

All three organizations consider project management an important core skill for the organizational future, but it is difficult to get people to work on teams.

The three project managers didn't know their organization's business strategy. Team members weren't trained on project management basics, and organizational learning was not the first priority for their companies. As a consequence, they were reinventing the wheel many times.

Two of the professionals have a project office, but all project reviews are conducted solely by project managers. They have difficulty getting others involved, and managers only ask for results. The project office should facilitate the process, not absolve people from participation. These organizations need more sharing and cooperation across their borders—an ideal role for the project office to coordinate—but a low project management maturity level stands in the way.

All three inventory their projects, but the projects are not visible across the organization. They don't have a formalized project-selection process. They establish project priorities but don't respect them during the project life cycle. As a result, the interviewees believe that their firms' project managers are not always truthful. People don't say what they want, and, much worse, they don't do as they say.

The market is changing very quickly, and these companies must respond rapidly. When a company launches a new product, it must define the complete solution to make this product successful. This is not happening when these companies approach their worldwide markets. Europeans are discovering that global competitors may be more responsive and provide more value to the customer than they do. Service is key.

To be able to transform an organization to the solution-oriented approach, all staff must be involved.

All the professionals interviewed explained that their organizations are focused on training only project managers in the principles of project management. The management team must be involved in delivering solutions to their customers, but managers believe project management is only tactical.

Companies do not allow project managers to spend time doing retrospective analysis. Spending time to analyze what we did well, what we did poorly and what we learned is important. To transform an organization to the solution-oriented approach, all staff must be involved. Transformation must be planned and communicated to the whole organization.

Products have a tangible value, but solutions often don't. However, solutions transform an organization to achieve customer expectations, validate product scope and become agile. A solution-oriented culture allows people to spend time planning. Project management doesn't happen accidentally.

A solution-oriented organization must get and maintain customers. If not, it experiences rework, frustration and ineffectiveness. To be effective, today's companies must build project management as their core competency.

Cultural change requires an executive champion, sponsorship from upper management, and a lot of energy from everyone. If you believe in your projects and are ready to manage them successfully, you will be able to sell the “big move” to your company in the appropriate way. PM

Alfonso Bucero, PMP, managing director of the International Institute for Learning's Madrid, Spain, office, trains project managers throughout Europe and Asia.

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