Every business – no matter how big or small – have projects taking place across it. And the ability to achieve successful projects directly relates to its success and bottom line!
So what exactly is a project? To put it simply, a project is any activity or initiative that takes place in your business to achieve a specific goal. ‘Well – then every activity across my business should be a project’ I hear you say.
Yes exactly, that’s the point. Any activity or initiative that we do in our business must have an objective that correlates to moving our business forward and a clear plan of action in order to deliver precisely that. In reality, though, this is rarely the case.
The only types of projects that attempt at putting plans in place tend to be strategic ones that have senior management sign-off and typically a P+L number against them. But all too often they are passed to a Project Management Office (either internal or even external), where the business can lose visibility of what is going on and the PMO struggles to get effective stakeholder engagement.
What’s even more worrying is that traditional PM methodology dictates we should take projects, break them down into little tasks and then assign those to the relevant people. And the theory behind this is that when everyone hopefully completes their set tasks it demonstrates that progress is being made, the main project should automatically be completed and a ‘job well done all around.
And too many project and task management tools enforce this behavior and mindset – ‘just take projects and organise them into simple tasks to be done.
Now most of us know it never works that way. Completing tasks doesn’t mean that you are driving business change and delivering something that matters. What drives business change is informed and effective decision-making based on the projects we have going on.
Projects – or more important activities that move our business forward – have three main components: work, people, and communication. It is so important to be able to clearly answer:
1. What is the work that needs to be completed, by when and why?
2. Who are the people that are going to do that work?
3. And how is everyone going to communicate across the business what progress is being made and what is going on?
As I mentioned at the beginning, any project or work must clearly identify what is the business goal that we are trying to achieve. If it is not related to a measurable goal, you then have to take a moment and ask why is it even being done? The role of business leaders is to ensure that their teams have a clear goal to deliver. And these need clear timelines of delivery – not necessarily to enforce a hard stop – but to more show that progress is being made and goals are being achieved.
In terms of the work to get done, projects and activities need planning! But the planning in itself must have agility (and I definitely AM NOT referring to Agile PM Methodology here). What I mean by that is our world is constantly changing, what was true 5 minutes ago doesn’t have to be true in 5 minutes. So, therefore, we need early indicators of threats to our goals and the agility to iterate our course of work and actions to effectively cater for change.
People are the backbone of any business. From the CEO and senior management team, who define strategic and tactful decisions, to functional heads and their teams, who implement and execute those strategies, every person plays a role in the success of their organisation.
So it is vital that on any project, every stakeholder clearly knows their role, responsibilities and deliverables and also the role of others. And while this may seem obvious, often it’s not the case. Additionally, you need to ensure that you don’t assign too much work to specific people. Even if one person’s skill set naturally lends them to taking up most of the work, you need to provide a structure that allows their colleagues to take and manage some of that workload.
I don’t think many of you would disagree with me if I said that communication was one of the most important elements in business – and specifically probably one of the greatest factors in why projects often fail or get significantly delayed.
It is vital that stakeholders can communicate across projects and the wider business on progress being made to achieve goals and potential risks and issues that arise. More importantly, in any project there are multiple channels of communications, so it is crucial that those channels can be linked directly to those activities of work and stakeholders that they concern. By the way, email is not an effective way of doing this.
OK – So what?
The so what is simple – business projects don’t only concern the program/project managers or the budget holder who signs them off – they concern the entire business. As I said right at the beginning, successful businesses complete successful projects – and every project should have a clear measurable business goal meaning that everyone should be aligned to achieve it.
And knowing what work needs to get done, who is going to do it and how everyone is going to collaborate with the agility to change our work (if needed) is of the utmost importance!
And this was the philosophy and design behind Wurqi’s collaborative work management platform. Wurqi integrates and centralises all work, people and communications into one single platform and then provides complete collaboration and visibility across the organisation.
It allows for businesses to rapidly and easily define key business goals and then build a pathway to achieving those, whilst providing total visibility on what needs to be done, by when and by who, and ultimately how much progress is actually being made, providing an intuitive platform to collaborate and communicate with anyone anywhere in your business.
Again, it isn’t about just organising projects into simple tasks – it’s about achieving your business goals to move your business forward.