Academic journal article Manager

Business Focused Project Management

Academic journal article Manager

Business Focused Project Management

Article excerpt

The Business of Project Management

In today's highly competitive and fast-paced environment, the rapid creation and delivery of high quality products and services is critical to business survival. Organisations are having to focus their energies on being highly innovative - delivering products and services involving greater technical complexity and requiring a greater diversity of skills. Moreover, this must be done with leaner organisations and tighter budgets, while maintaining the highest quality standards.

To meet these demands, modern businesses need to operate at high performance levels, harnessing the full power of their resources to focus on strategic and business objectives. In this environment, general management approaches alone no longer suffice.

A project is defined as being a `temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product or service', and the process of achieving a successful project as 'project management'. The need to deliver new and unique products and services (projects) usually arises from organisation strategy and business plans. Therefore, to achieve superior delivery performance, the management approach must build on organisation strategy, integrate with business imperatives, and focus on the objectives (the projects).

A New Approach

Traditional project management tended to focus primarily on the processes of managing projects to successful completion. To manage projects from their inception through to actual delivery of the business-enabling objectives, a different project management approach is needed. Project management needs to become part of the business and, in order to achieve that, organisations need to come to terms with the business of project management.

The struggle of many organisations to implement and apply project management has demonstrated that the classical, highly structured, engineering/construction approach does not meet the project management needs ofbusiness projects. Projects in the field of social and culture change, business redesign, and service improvement create management challenges that require a more flexible and organic approach.

As organisations need to convert their strategies into reality through programmes and projects, they have to ensure that projects are efficiently delivered and effectively integrated into the business. A sound understanding of how an organisation's portfolio of business programmes and projects is managed through prioritisation and selection is required, but there must also be an understanding of the more detailed aspects of project implementation.

A business focused project management approach can bridge this gap between strategy and detailed action plans. Project management must be equally at home in the boardroom, where projects are often initiated to deliver strategy, as it is at the coal face, where the work is done to realise strategic and business objectives.

The Need for Strategic Linkages

Within business enterprises, projects seldom exist in isolation. Business projects originate as a result of change initiatives arising from the organisation's strategic and business plans and, as such, exist alongside operations and within a portfolio of other projects. If projects are to be focused on the business, then the linkages between the organisations strategic and business plans need to be placed in context, and their importance recognised.

In developing a business focus for projects, organisations must consider a wide range of issues and follow a process that enables the correct projects to be undertaken in support of organisation strategy.

These issues include: * upper management support for project management.

* cross-functional interface with projects.

* project selection and prioritisation.

* portfolio management.

* upper management interface with project managers.

* the project support office (PSO). * project manager career paths. …

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