Improving Project and Engagement Management Performance
The relationship between project and engagement management and the improvement program that seeks to optimize their performance to satisfy stakeholder expectations. There is always an opportunity for organizations and teams to seek continuous improvement in processes and optimize performance. Both organizations and individuals understand the need to define their performance values and indicators so they can measure improvement success.
Engagement management encompasses the full range of activities from the initial contact with prospective clients, through the identification and qualification of opportunities, proposal development/quotations, portfolio-level decision making, negotiating and closing the sale, delivery and managing the ongoing relationship, including billing and the extension of services over time to serve the client’s evolving needs.
Engagement management is not limited to business-to-business organizations like consulting and engineering firms that sell services. In-house software development groups and other groups that perform projects to serve operational departments within their enterprise can gain from taking an engagement management approach.
Focused skills training is a vital part of any improvement program. Training a myriad of project managers on how to schedule and manage risk more effectively may make those managers better at performing those tasks but can lead to conflict with management, staff, salespeople, and clients. Training salespeople in contact and closing skills can bring in more sales. But organizational performance can suffer unless the participants have learned about and are accountable for a “sale’s” profitability and that they understand delivery pipelines.
A program to improve engagement performance includes project management courses for both hard-core PMs and other stakeholders, sales training, methodology training, emotional intelligence and mindfulness training, relationship and communications training, performance assessments, regular facilitated reviews, and team and individual coaching to better enable putting skills to work collaboratively.
Learning is a bit more complex but still not so difficult. These two are measured at training time, or, in the case of projects, upon project or phase completion. Behaviour and Results require assessment over time. Behaviour assessment is easy if leadership understands that for skills and products to be useful, they must be used. To determine if they are used requires resources, assessments, and reporting.
Results are the bottom line. Measuring results is not so easy and is frequently not done. It requires clarity about performance indicators, a baseline, regular and ongoing review, and recognition that multiple interacting factors drive results like greater profitability and higher quality.
When focusing on projects, the desired results are outcomes that consistently meet stakeholder expectations (including benefits realization) by delivering the agreed-upon product or service, on-time and within budget.
When using the term “stakeholder”, remember that it refers to anyone who may impact or be affected by the project, including project performers. Optimally, a project results in a viable product or service that makes a positive difference in terms of cost and effort reduction, improved quality, profitability, and healthy client and staff relations.
To determine if an engagement is successful, it is necessary to look at relationships over time and across multiple projects with the same client. Recognize that the value of many, if not most, products and services are the result of sustained use and the effectiveness of maintenance, enhancement, support, and customer service. Measure the degree to which project and service staff are happy, healthy, and can sustain effective performance without burning out. Assess attitudes, turnover rates, productivity vs. effectiveness, and the degree to which conflicts are effectively resolved.
Achieving optimal performance requires an improvement program that combines assessment, coaching, consulting, and training to ensure that desired results are achieved consistently over time. Because improvement occurs through a program its success is measured in the same way any program is measured – have desired results been achieved?
Optimal performance relies upon healthy projects within a well-oiled engagement management process in which success boils down to achieving value and stakeholder satisfaction. An improvement program is essential. Success requires a “contract” and a governance process. The contract (we use the term to include any agreement) provides the objective criteria for measuring success. The governance process makes sure that the flow of improvement and operational projects is moderated to satisfy client expectations, maximize value, and not overburden the performance staff. It considers success from an enterprise perspective.
Let us know your thoughts, we would like to hear from you, all the very best on your project management journey