Are Cambridge’s organisations making the most of project management?

18/11/2013

Both public and private sector organisations which successfully manage change - whether this is when trying to grow, managing costs better, meeting new customer or citizen needs, or responding to external events - have long since recognised project management (and, more recently, programme management) as a core enabling discipline.

Given the ever increasing pace and complexity of change, the ability of private sector organisations to manage it well is now a key source of competitive advantage.  Equally, in the public sector it is becoming more and more essential in order to continue delivering outcomes in an environment of less funding.

However, despite this, many organisations

  • don’t recognise the need for project management
  • avoid it because they think it an unnecessary overhead or a bureaucracy that will stifle creativity and agility
  • have adopted project management in some form but are applying it in too limited a way to get the full value
  • ask busy technical specialists or operational managers to do a project management role on top of their ‘day jobs’, often with insufficient time being allocated or recognition of the different skills required. 

It’s no surprise then that many organisations feel they are not fully delivering on their business plans or managing change well.

For it to be as effective as possible, project management ideally needs to be tied in to all aspects of running an organisation - from strategy setting through to operational delivery.   There is a wide range
of project management ‘approaches’ that, when applied appropriately, can help address a number of common issues, such as:

  • Not knowing whether a business plan / strategy is doable and where the main risks are, or having confidence that it will result in the benefits (financial and non-financial) being sought.
  • Uncertainty about how to translate a strategy into a tangible action plan and deciding on where to focus activity to get the desired return on investment and avoid wasted effort (eg in the so called ‘valley of death’ for start-ups).
  • Starting lots of piecemeal initiatives but finding that they rarely get seen through to completion or, if they do, not knowing how to assess whether they were ‘successful’ or fit with the big picture.
  • Not having accurate and relevant information about the genuine progress being made in any development work and therefore being unable to spot any early warning signs of problems that need addressing.
  • Lack of clarity on which benefits a project will deliver and/or whether these will genuinely flow through to the bottom line when a project is finished.

Steve Wade is a Cambridge-based freelance project and programmer manager with over 25 years’ experience of helping make change happen in a wide range of public and private sector organisations.  This work has included a number of start-up initiatives and new product developments as well as many organisation-wide ‘transformation’ programmes.

Steve is currently running short one-to-one ‘clinics’ for organisations that are experiencing the above problems for real.  These are a chance to talk over – with confidentiality and at no initial cost or obligation – your business’s specific change management issues and get a professional assessment of the options for tackling them. 

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Please contact Steve on 07931 373132 or email steve.wade@phonecoop.coop for more information.

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Steve Wade is a freelance Programme & Project Manager

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