project management

4 Steps to Execute on Building Business Value – #3 Project Management

The last two weeks of this four week series have been about strategy (week 1) and systemization (week 2). Your strategy sets the stage while systemization puts processes in place to make the business less reliable on just a few key people, including the owner. With a strategy you know where you're going and having systems that allow for delegation, frees up time to execute on the strategy. Week three now, is about PROJECT MANAGEMENT and EXECUTION... implementing your strategic plans and moving the needle to improve the value of your business. 

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In this installment, we talk about project management. Project management is how you execute the strategy and plans outlined during the strategy sessions. Projects are different from operations because they are time-bound (have a start and end date), they have a specific scope, and they generally implement some type of change within your organization. Projects can include the work to document your processes, work to upgrade or deploy new technology, work to execute marketing tactics, work to launch a new website, work to address the 8 key drivers of company value, etc. Within the area of project management, you should identify the projects that need to get done, prioritize the projects, identify the dependencies between those projects, identify the tasks to successfully implement the change, identify the resources that need to be assigned, and then execute. These projects may be quick wins or company-wide, long-term efforts; this is why a 3-5 year timeline is appropriate when considering your exit strategy.

There are several keys to successful project management implementation:

  • Vocal/demonstrated support from the business owner. People within the organization need to know that this is not a temporary fix or just something we’re doing “today” and think things will go back to the old way when focus shifts to the next shiny object.
  • Ownership and accountability. Someone needs to take ownership of and be accountable for successfully executing project management. Additionally, the project team needs to be accountable for executing the tasks they have been assigned.
  • Good planning. Key stakeholders impacted by the project need to work together with the project manager to identify the tasks and resources that are needed to get each project done.
  • Successful scope management. Defining early and clearly what the project will achieve and what success looks like is important. Scoping defines the boundaries of the project and helps everyone know when the objective has been achieved. Metrics can also be defined to facilitate reporting and informed decision making.
  • Effective change management. Change should be considered from two perspectives – 1.) project change: business is dynamic, what is important today may not be tomorrow and vice-versa. Projects many need to change with business conditions; we account for this though project change management; and 2.) individual/organizational change: keeping the business informed of changes helps to ensure buy-in of the project’s objectives. This type of change addresses how the people in the business react to the change being implemented. Are people aware of the change, are they accepting of the change, are they practicing the change, etc.?

Check out my previous post related to Project Management: 12 Things a Project Manager and Project Management Is and Is-Not.

Why it’s important: The importance of project management is orderly execution. If the strategy sets the stage and is the plan, project management is the execution of the tactics to implement that strategy/plan. Without executing projects your strategy remains a plan; things will never change, never improve, and you’ll stunt the growth your business could see in customers, revenue, and value. Project management is important because it is “DOING."

About the Author Mark Mraz

I have been in project management and process improvement for over 15 years working for large and small for-profit companies, associations, and not-for-profit organizations. After working in hospitality management for over 10 years, I underwent a career change moving into technology, working for GE. It was there I began working in project management and process improvement; training with GE's Six Sigma program. Later my career had me working with Constellation Energy in Baltimore, Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas, and eventual transitioning into consulting working for federal agencies and most recently an industry association in the utility sector. I enjoy working with and helping small and medium-sized organizations build value in their business through strategy, project execution, systemization, and marketing.

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