Many Professional Services organisations struggle to get their arms around how to control the success and profitability of their projects. Quite simply, this requires Professional Services organisations to have rigorous, well-defined project management practices in place. Building project management excellence within an organisation is more than just hiring and training the right project managers. It requires giving them the environment, standard processes and tools they need to succeed.
Let’s take a closer look at the attributes for successful project management within Professional Services. Essentially there are four pillars for building project management excellence.
A Firm Foundation for Project Management
Pillar 1: Building Strong and Effective Project Managers
To develop great project managers (PMs), organisations first need to take an inventory of each PM’s current activities. Then establish a vision of what they want their PMs to achieve. The vision must be concrete and attainable and include only duties PMs have the authority to accomplish. To set realistic goals senior management must establish clear expectations and provide the appropriate training. This is where Talent Management solutions with automated training and career planning capabilities can help.
Pillar 2: Building a Successful Environment
If your firm’s environment doesn’t support your project managers they will fail. Building the right environment starts at the top. Senior management must be willing to invest in the vision they establish for their PMs. Project directors and principals must be willing to support and partner with PMs to achieve project objectives. You’ll also need a set of clear, company-wide project standards and efficient processes. Standards should include documented PM processes, reports and templates that drive efficiency and help PMs comply with standards.
Pillar 3: Using the Right Technology
Project-based businesses have needs that are very different than other organisations. Each project is different and project managers need tools designed to manage and track information at the project level. Project-based ERP systems provide integrated project, resource management and financial management capabilities designed to adapt to the way professional services organisations work.
Project-based ERP provides a framework for project managers to implement consistent processes and best practices across the organisation. It provides project managers easy access to the right data when they need it, ensuring better business decisions through improved visibility, insight and control. Better business decisions in turn, will help drive efficiency and profitability.
Pillar 4: Building Accountability
Accountability is where the rubber meets the road for Professional Services firms. It doesn’t matter how many goals you set or standards you have in place if you aren’t holding your PMs and the broader organisation accountable.
Project Management Accountability
Accountability means PMs must follow and document their compliance with established standards. They must have clearly defined project management plans that record the scope, schedules, budgets, resource requirements and other critical information about the project they are managing. PMs should also be tracking project-related KPIs so they can take appropriate action when projects are failing and benchmark projects for improving performance.
Most project managers do not have formal finance training. This puts the onus on the firm’s finance staff to partner and guide PMs in understanding what the data means and how to use the information to improve the financial performance of their projects.
Senior Management Accountability
Senior management’s role in building PM excellence is critical because they set the standards for project management across the firm. To foster PM excellence they must meet regularly with their PMs, either informally or scheduling formal project reviews. Projects with high risk or high opportunity are particularly important candidates for formal reviews.
The success of a professional services organisation depends upon building project management excellence. It’s the best way to increase client satisfaction, build internal talent and improve a company-wide understanding of how to make project success repeatable. With the right environment and project-based ERP in place, your firm can implement and nurture a culture of strong project management. This ultimately will lead to increasing your organisation’s project profitability and success.