Secrets for success from award winning project managers

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As we all know, this year has been a difficult one, but considering the challenges we’re facing, there is much to celebrate in the project community. The APM Project Management Awards 2020 celebrated achievements in the project profession and we caught up with some of the winners to find out their secrets to success:

Be prepared for anything; lots of change can mean lots of challenges

Montserrat's programme management office achieved success in a challenging delivery and funding context, winning PMO of the Year Award. The Montserrat government’s PMO holds important lessons for innovation and implementation within the international community, especially where there is lots of change. Martin Parlett, head of programme management Office notes that “every change affects people both locally and nationally. Attending to the human and psychological element of project management has been key for us, as well as empowering people as their own change agents”.

Linda Dias, deputy head of programme management office, government of Montserrat added that project professionals should, “always have a plan B. Make sure whatever obstacles are thrown in your way, you have a plan to overcome them.”

Projects are about people, not just processes

Building a functional 80 bed hospital within a few weeks during embargo, lockdowns and issues with supplies due to the Coronavirus pandemic seemed quite impossible. But winner of Social Project of the Year, the COVID-19 Field Hospital project in the Cayman Islands was delivered within budget, on time and met stringent quality standards. Graeme Jackson, director of workforce development Cayman Islands COVID-19 Field Hospital, highlighted the importance of people power:

“For me, the most important thing about this project was the community involvement. Not being afraid to ask for help was essential…surround yourself with the best people you possibly can and look for talent wherever you can find it. We made sure to use the best local talent we could. Also, make sure there is absolute clarity on what you’re trying to achieve. Paint the picture of what good looks like and then stand back and let people get on with it.”

Kalpesh Patel, business transformation expert at PA Consulting, also believes in the power of people:

“A successful project is about more than just process – it’s about the people. People deliver projects, so understanding the team dynamics and investing in individuals’ capability is crucial in order to achieve sustainable change and enduring results.” PA Consulting, winners of Contribution to the Profession Award, helped lead the Ventilator Challenge for the UK government, with more than 5,000 companies and 7,500 people, joining together to save lives on the NHS front line.

Good ideas can come from anywhere

Arup’s project delivery of a World-class Innovation Centre won them the Innovation in Projects Award: their new approach, where Lean Integrated Project Delivery methodology was used in collaboration with an Integrated Form of Association contract, encouraged collaboration and openness between the client and delivery teams.

Stefan A van Dijk, senior project manager at Arup advises fellow project professionals to “always be open to the suggestions of others. Be open to innovation and new ways of doing things. There’s never a bad idea. These are all worthy things to progress the old way of doing things into something new and exciting. You never know what you will find if you allow people to think outside the box. This whole project was based on that principle, as well as openness and dialogue”.

Leanne McCulloch, programme manager for civil aerospace project management function from Rolls-Royce also highlights the importance of diverse thinking:

“For us, it’s about enabling people to be the best they can be. We wanted to drive people, get the best from them and make project management the place to be in Rolls-Royce… we had a lot of creative thinkers and people who could drive a different way of thinking – a different mentality and approach. Embrace things that might be a bit different and try new things. Be bold and creative.”

Rolls-Royce’s Civil Aerospace launched Pioneering Programme Management (‘Pioneering PM’) to engage and professionalise Rolls-Royce’s community of programme managers worldwide, putting programme management in Rolls-Royce on the map and winning them the Contribution to the Profession Award.

Project success goes beyond processes and this year has shown us, in many ways, the importance of adapting, open mindedness and people power. Projects won't rest and nor do project professionals so take some time for yourself to celebrate the achievements of your project community.

Image: APM

Annie Mirza

Posted by Annie Mirza on 18th Nov 2020

About the Author

Annie Mirza is the editorial coordinator at APM. If you're interested in writing a blog or article for APM check out the style guidelines and email: publishing@apm.org.uk.

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