A Better Way to Get Work Done

June 8, 2010
Coming to the realization that project success depends more on people and less on process or technology is the paradigm shift needed within project and portfolio management industry.

The search for a better way to get work done requires that we stand back and take an objective look at the project and portfolio management (PPM) process with fresh eyes. As organizations look to project management methodologies to increase visibility, improve effectiveness, and ultimately maximize their ability to compete in a highly competitive marketplace, the need to look at traditional work management methodologies has become increasingly important.

PPM's Greatest Challenge

As PPM methodologies spread departmentally throughout organizations, the greatest challenge facing executives is a lack of voluntary team member participation in the project management process. Taking a traditional top-down or command-and-control project management approach doesn't work with today's workforce, resulting in:

  • Project information that executives don't trust
  • An overly structured management environment that people dislike
  • Frustrated project teams whose accomplishments often go unrecognized

Coming to the realization that project success depends more on people and less on process or technology is the paradigm shift needed within the PPM industry.

The Three Key Drivers of Increased Project Team Participation

We've discovered that people are more willing to interact with the process and provide the valuable, accurate, and timely information executives need to make decisions and lead their organizations, if their solution addresses the following:

  • Empowerment: People want to be empowered with ownership and flexibility regarding their deliverables and deadlines. A team-centric task assignment model enables team members to contribute to the establishment of benchmarks and time-lines while creating a greater sense of responsibility among team members.
  • Confidence: Managers and executives consume conversational information about projects, which provides deeper insight into real project status. Business leaders who leverage solutions that facilitate free-form conversations around assignments capture better information to help them keep an accurate pulse on their businesses and make more proactive decisions.
  • Recognition: People take pride in their work and they care about what their managers think of them and their accomplishments. Organizations that facilitate the recognition of individual team member accomplishments and contributions foster an environment where team members are more inclined to participate and provide the information needed by executives to make informed decisions.

How Can An Organization Improve the Way Work Gets Done?

The successful project management solutions of the future will need to take a totally different approach-incorporating those social networking features that address the demands of project-based work traditional PPM solutions can't accommodate. Doing this requires that we consider a number of the benefits that draw people into social networking tools generally:

  • They are easy to use
  • People receive positive feedback from their network of friends
  • People can share conversational information about what they're doing with their friends

Combining the power of social networking with the structure of project management will:

  • Empower the Front Line: The people closer to the work understand it best. It makes sense to involve individual team members in project plans and promote greater individual ownership over priorities and commitments. Allowing team members to make public commitments, take ownership, and prioritize their work, organizations empower the front line for success.
  • Capture the real story: The most significant factor to improving data accuracy is capturing more qualitative information. Encouraging a flow of conversational information, providing frequent and more descriptive updates delivers greater visibility and a richer understanding of the real story. Qualitative information flowing upward in organizations gives managers and executives the ability to follow conversations on relevant initiatives-along with a sense of confidence in the data they use to make decisions.
  • Recognize Accomplishments: People ensure project success. Focusing on people fosters discussion, highlights accomplishments, and keeps everyone engaged. Recognizing individual achievements and allowing coworkers to comment on other's work and success is a critical catalyst to effective teams and project success.

"A more social approach to project management such as @task Stream will be great for improving communication within our department, managing and tracking the level of work we produce as well as providing feedback to our employees," said Tracy Gardinger, Education and Research Measurement, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

The project management solution providers who successfully incorporate the benefits of social networking within the structure of project management are well positioned to help businesses find a better way to get work done-those which can't run the risk of becoming obsolete.

Scott Johnson is CEO, @Task, which provides project and portfolio management (PPM) as well as social project management.

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