The new year is upon us and everyone is neck deep in the latest round of budget revisions, prioritization meetings and team strategy sessions for the new year. ‘We don’t have enough budget for that’, ‘That is not a top priority’, ‘How does that impact our new year strategy?’… sound familiar? As everyone is busy posturing to get their pet projects affirmed, the following four points might add some clarity to key decisions aimed at providing the most value to your new year project management strategy.
Schedule Training Early. By now you probably have already confirmed your 2013 project management training calendar for the year. I hope. If not, you should probably make this a top priority. The best-in-class companies start this process towards the middle of Q4 so that they can (a) query their databases to see which courses are the most popular, (b) evaluate which team members, project managers and sponsors have been trained (c) confirm annual training budgets and (d) get their pick of dates for their preferred training providers. Good trainers book up early and you do not want to be left trying to find qualified trainers without notice (they usually book up early). If you have not do so already, develop a quarterly cadence for core project management methodology and software training; and promote these courses to your employees.
Project Strategy. So you launched a ton of projects last year… some worked, some failed, some got “killed on the vine”. Undoubtedly some of your projects were longer term initiatives that continued into the new year. Now it is time to conduct your ‘On Deck Strategy Session’ to evaluate which crop of the latest “great ideas” get their chance in the new year, and what priority each project has (they can’t all be ranked #1 priority) . To do this, you will need to round up your executive team and conduct a project prioritization meeting where you align the list of great ideas to your New Year strategic goals and determine if you have the resources for everything. Of course, this is not a one-time event, this is something your team does annually. Right? If not, do not fret, it’s never too late to start implementing best practices! Open your email calendar and get that strategic project prioritization meeting setup ASAP!
Assess for Success. Every year you go to the doctor for your annual health check-up to make sure everything is in working order. You should be doing something similar for your project management processes. (how else is your project management going to remain healthy?). Sure you can always do a “self-check”, but if you really want to gain an honest review you need to have a professional practitioner conduct a diagnostic check. Though there are multiple strategies that you might deploy for this health diagnostic, ensure they include: an overall process assessment, a cultural diagnostic, a training plan review, and an action plan for improvements. Oh, and try not to make this a ‘one time only’ occurrence; it’s easier to prevent a “project management heart attack” with regular assessments from your “family doctor”.
Partner to Win. One of the exciting parts to project management is by its nature, the projects are different. Usually, the projects differ in size, scope, intensity and project team (that’s why they are projects by definition). To ensure your organization can effectively respond to the ebb and flow in your project pipeline throughout any given year, you need to be flexible in how you scale your project management infrastructure. Of course you don’t want to staff for the highest possible need, nor do you want to get caught in a position where you have your staff spread too thin. To accomplish this you might consider partnering with a reputable consulting company who can both fill the gap in peak support times, but also act as the core to your project office to maintain consistency. The project management consulting company you choose should be able to provide you with various levels of project management support expertise, provide you a wide range of training courses with bandwidth to scale as needed, be skilled in executive strategic project prioritization and communication, offer an efficient project management health assessment, and be capable of providing support globally.