What can the project profession teach the world?
The workplace is becoming ‘projectified’. As the Association for Project Management’s Golden Thread report shows, more people are working in project-related roles, so project-related skills are a must in the modern workplace. Indeed, more workplaces are applying project management approaches such as agile and hybrid across the business.
At an individual level, project management skills can teach people how to organise themselves, prioritise their workload, and ensure their work is the best quality it can be.
So to celebrate the brilliance of project managers everywhere, here are some of the most essential things that project management could teach the rest of the world:
Project managers know how to plan. They can look at everything available to them – from budget to people to equipment – and determine how best to deploy it so as to make the work as efficient and effective as possible. They clarify objectives, and know how to prioritise time, money and people in order to meet them.
A better focus on how to deliver goals is useful in all walks of life – from being more productive at work to improving your fitness. It could also help on a larger scale; if the countries that signed the Paris Accord on climate change had a clear focus on how to achieve the goals they set for themselves with the money and resources available to them (perhaps putting it all in a nice Gantt chart), perhaps we’d have made more progress in reducing carbon emissions.
Asking the right questions
Project managers are brilliant at identifying risks and working out how to manage them. They do this by asking the right questions of any project they work on to identify where those risks might arise. They then make informed decisions and create an action plan for how to avoid or mitigate those risks.
This level of scrutiny could be beneficial in so many walks of life. Planning for what might go wrong could prevent thousands of small businesses from going under in their early years, for example.
Project managers understand the importance of delivering the right balance of quality, time and budget – they make sure whatever they deliver is as good as it can be. They put quality above the other two in terms of priority, knowing that it’s better to deliver a good product late and over budget than a shoddy one early and at a lower cost.
Most importantly, they know how to measure quality through deliverables, frequent quality reviews from the very beginning of a project right through to the end, and external assurance where necessary.
Think of how many products are rushed to market at the expense of quality – the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, with its exploding battery, for example. At best, a waste of money, at worst, a risk to safety. On a smaller scale, a project manager’s sense of quality could have saved the pain of thousands of botched housing renovation projects.