Critical Success Factors for Enterprise – Wide Project Management

Hello Everyone,

I hope all you projects are going well.  Remember to email me if I can assist you in any way.  You also have my mobile number which you can use as well.

In my very first blog I told you that I would focus on enterprise-wide organizational improvement.  So, this week in that regard, I thought I would outline for you some of the critical success factors if you and your organization are serious about enterprise-wide project management implementation and improvement.  As you read my list you may be struck by the absence of certain items like buy-in, portfolio, methodology, tooling and others.  In my opinion these are components of the organizational change project plan but not the critical success factors.   We will talk about each of those in later blogs along with all the other work streams that will be addressed.  The key critical success factors are:

  1. There must be a champion.  Someone must be identified to lead the effort who has the vision, the power and the authority to make it all happen.  To implement a well defined and managed project management system inside a medium to large organization is no easy task.  Leadership, management, business and facilitation skills are required.  The champion must have the skills, the charisma, to bring top executives together, to create a common set of objectives and to establish an effective steering committee which will stay in place during the entire campaign. The champion must have expert project management subject matter and sales skills. The champion must have large scale program and project planning skills.  The champion will be in effect the General Manager for the effort and will ultimately be accountable to the people in the organization.
  2. There must be a value-based program plan.  The champion must establish detailed program and project plans to design, develop and implement the changes required.  The program plan should be structured in a way that leads to some logical steps, all of which are associated with achievement of a business based milestone which has value.  Many times change programs fail because they were not value-based planned.  An organizational change campaign is probably a multi-year effort of significant expense.  If value is not designed into the program plan at a level to sustain funding and generate buy-in then it is doomed.  Stage gates should be defined which signal a switch from cost to benefits.
  3. There must be executive management support.  Every functional line in an enterprise has different objectives, culture and processes. If an enterprise-wide system is to be put in place, the system must be effective everywhere in the company–from internal audit to IT; from manufacturing to human resources.  As such this is a top down effort requiring every executive in the company to support it; to buy in; to carry the baton; to offer up resources and to drive the implementation within their tower of the company.  To get this executive support is not easy and eventually will lead you back to the value-based program plan. If your plan does not produce measurable, observable value then you will not be able to keep the machinery running. Eventually it will lose power and shut down.  So to obtain executive support a value based program plan and a champion are prerequisites.
  4. There must be key metrics. The plan is nothing; planning is everything; metrics provide the evidence.  The value based program plan is in a sense a promise by the champion that the campaign will produce measurable and observable benefit.  What is needed to maintain the forward momentum is evidence that the benefits are being realized as planned and also that the way forward is under control and proceeding as planned.  Key metrics must be designed to provide evidence along the entire life cycle that each value based milestone was achieved and the business benefit delivered. If realized benefit can be shown, additional funding will be easier to obtain and buy-in by personnel will grow.

The concept of value based program planning may be difficult to grasp. It demands a deep understanding of where the enterprise derives value and what is valued by the enterprise. Some aspects are clear–cost reduction, higher revenue. Some aspects are not as obvious but are nonetheless quantifiable.  For example how much value would the organization place on being able to actually meet a schedule the very first time it was committed?  If you think through the details on value elements like this you will eventually realize that with some thought and analysis even this can be quantified.  I have done this enough times that I say without hesitation that it is possible to not only define a set of meaningful value based milestones but also to develop a set of key metrics to provide evidence of attainment for each.  You must know and be able to show where you’ve been and where you are going.

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