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Time to change? How to shape the profession for tomorrow

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Posted by APM on 1st Dec 2014

The future of Project Management - How can we think differently about programme delivery?

The APM Northern Ireland branch held an event to consider the future of project management and how we all need to think differently as professionals to achieve the APM vision to create a world in which all projects succeed which forms part of the APM Strategy 2020.

The event took place on 13th November and Amanda Clack, an APM Fellow, was the keynote speaker who set the scene and provided the background to start off discussions.  Amanda shared insight into work and research she has been involved with in considering project failures and successes based on her 25 years in the profession.

In 4 groups delegates considered the questions below in the context of what can we do as professionals to create a world in which all projects succeed?


What can help make a project successful?

  • As project managers we properly manage the client.
  • We establish clearly defined objectives, strategy and parameters for the programme at the outset within a good communications framework that is truly two-way.
  • Properly define and understand what success is for all the key stakeholders involved.
  • Have appropriately team ain place in terms of (i) skills, (ii) clear accountabilities defined, (iii) capacity to deliver and (iv) linking their personal objectives to programme outcomes. 


What should we do differently in setting up programmes?

  • Take the time for a truly holistic approach at outset prior to the green light to get into delivery.
  • Establish a realistic programme baseline that is SMART (recognise a programme is an intention and their will be change to manage along the way).
  • Align programmes strategically and co-ordinate project planning.
  • Clear roles, responsibilities and governance take the time to define these properly at the outset.


What can we do differently in delivery?

  • Proactively have face-to-face discussions with the client with well structured reports from us as project managers to the client.  (Plus not be afraid to hit the pause button if necessary)
  • Continually update the programme (plan) to achieve the end date; communicate better; plus focus on every aspect including key financial indicators such as cash flow.
  • Manage change more effectively.
  • Prioritisation of the portfolio against the business strategy.


What are the challenges in convincing clients of what needs to change?

  • Convincing the client they need to properly resource the project at the setting up stage and allow sufficient time.
  • Help the client to understand that better two-way communication is essential and that they need to understand implications of change i.e. to fail is more costly and less effective.
  • Help the client understand implications for not changing.
  • Help the client to understand roles better i.e. (i) their own role as the project sponsor, and (ii) the programme management function.


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