3 Foundational Elements For Effective Project Management Stellenbosch Business School Skip to main content
3 Foundational Elements For Effective Project Management
It’s not your imagination. Project management has grown more complex across industries.

It’s not your imagination. Project management has grown more complex across industries:

“Projects have become more and more complex because of the increasing factors that are considered [the] source of complexity. A large amount of required resources, a turbulent environment, working on the edge of technology, and a large number and diversity of actors working and communicating with each other are all factors that affect project outcome. This complex environment influences project planning, coordination, and control…”. Complexity and Project Management: Challenges, Opportunities, and Future Research

Here are three ways to handle this evolving role and deliver excellent results when managing projects in your organisation:

1) You need to do more than manage

As the job title suggests, project managers have traditionally focused on management skills, with leadership skills being secondary. The modern project manager needs to be able to handle both aspects of this role equally.

The Essential Leadership Skills For Project Managers paper highlights four leadership skills that are critical for project management success:

  • Motivating and inspiring – Keep a project on track by regularly communicating its vision to the relevant stakeholders. This will also help keep the team motivated and focused.
  • Team building – Encourage team members to collaborate on both individual and group tasks, as this will help achieve the overall goals of the project.
  • Negotiating and communicating – Create an environment where all stakeholders and team members can communicate honestly and openly. You will also need to facilitate negotiation between team members and stakeholders when compromises need to be made.
  • Listening and influencing – This is similar to the previous point, but highlights the importance of active listening skills when engaging with stakeholders and team members.

2) Have a clear communication strategy

In leadership, you need certain practical communication skills, such as the ability to negotiate and actively listen. However, you also need a communication strategy to support these skills and successfully guide a project to completion.

The white paper Communication: The Message Is Clear offers five communication strategy tips:

  1. Position communication as a strategic function – “Unless communication is approached through the context of what you’re trying to achieve, you risk staying too focused on the tasks instead of the big-picture communication goals,” says Atos’ Mr. Letavec.
  2. Define the target – “If you leave any one group out, you risk turning someone who could be a supporter into a detractor,” Mr. Letavec says.
  3. Make it a group effort – “Everyone has to participate in the communication process or you’re going to face a lot of surprises,” says Barrick’s Mr. Colborne.
  4. Mix it up – By integrating variety in messaging style, timing and channel, organisations ensure everyone can access the information they need, when they need it.
  5. Get an outsider’s opinion – Communication can get stale when the same stakeholders make the same decisions year in and year out. Including a fresh set of eyes in the communication process helps organisations identify risks and potential mistakes, says the CDC’s Mr. Lyday. “It brings objectivity to the plan and ensures the project team isn’t deluding itself.”

3) Have an efficient organisation and delegation method

Many times, we attempt to delegate using ineffective methods like making task assignments through a ticketing system or email. Much of the needed information is “lost in translation” and the low personal connection of those tools leads to low commitment on the part of the person assigned to do the work. Delegation – the 30% solution

Your project management system might work, but is it the most efficient solution? One method to improve your current system is The 30% Solution, a delegation strategy by Tom Cooper. In this conference paper, Cooper unpacks this strategy:

  1. Phase 1 – The project manager and team member work together to complete the first 20% of the project or task. During this stage, the project manager will ensure the team member is moving in the right direction by clarifying a number of important factors, including the goals, the methods being used, and communication channels.
  2. Phase 2 – The project manager steps into a supporting role, while the team member aims to complete the next 70% of the task.
  3. Phase 3 – The project manager rejoins the team member on the project to bring the task to completion. During this phase the project manager’s main goals are to ensure the work is done on time and the work meets specific quality standards.

This strategy:

  • Allows for team members who are not yet fully trained to deliver work at the correct level. Because they are collaborating directly with the project manager, the project manager can help train and support the team member.
  • Increases the project manager’s productivity by freeing him up from direct, daily contact with 70% of the work required for deliverables.
  • Supports quality of final deliverables by increasing contact between the worker and the project manager before the work is due to be delivered.

The challenges facing project managers cannot be underestimated

As project management becomes increasingly complex, project managers must develop their skills to meet the demands of this environment.

If you are interested in growing and certifying your skills, take a look at our Project Management programme. This programme will equip you with the tools you need to manage projects and lead with confidence, no matter the difficulties you may face. If you have any questions about our Postgraduate Diploma in Project Management, or would like to find out more about our institution, you can contact us here.

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