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10 Guiding Principles for Project Management

Create a project management 'shorthand' to help all involved work together

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-project-management-construction-planning-image33235871As project management leaders put the finishing touches on their strategic plans for 2013, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in requests for overarching project management principles.

This is because organizations want to create a shorthand that allows everyone involved in project execution—project managers, sponsors, stakeholders, and the project management office (PMO)—to work together effectively. That’s not to say that existing RACI charts and escalation rules (for CEB PMO members) aren’t helpful, but without a set of common principles people often substitute process adherence for making the right decision.

In that spirit, as part of our new study PMO in a Box, we’ve created a ‘top ten’ list of the best project management principles we’ve seen from PMOs in the past year.

  1. Business value: The goal of all project work is to deliver business value.

  2. Judgment: Empower project staff to make decisions about methodology application and trade-offs between scope, schedule, and budget when necessary.

  3. Enterprise perspective: Consider the impact of project decisions on enterprise value, not just project or PMO objectives.

  4. Shared accountability: Create commitment to a shared vision of project outcomes.

  5. Stakeholder partnership: Establish personal connections with stakeholders based on leadership, trust, and credibility.

  6. Proactivity: Take a proactive approach to identifying and resolving project challenges.

  7. Risk management: Enable informed tradeoffs between project and portfolio risks and potential rewards.

  8. Time management: Encourage project managers (PMs) to value time—both stakeholders’ and their own—when making project execution decisions and managing meetings.

  9. Cost efficiency: Calibrate resource use and project management costs with project needs and expected returns.

  10. Reuse: When possible, use existing processes and tools before creating or buying new ones.

But the most successful project management organizations don’t just dust off these principles every year when they’re creating their annual plan.

They embed them into the day-to-day rhythm of project management work so that the principles become the guide for interactions between project management staff and stakeholders, and the way in which PMOs and project managers make decisions about resource allocation and skills development.

To really make them come alive, they post them on the wall in every team meeting room, include them at the top of the agenda for all project meetings, and hand them to every new PM on their first day at work.

 

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3 Responses

  • Chris G in Sydney says:

    From the school of hard knocks:
    1. Business Value: The goal of all project work is to deliver business value. Thankfully this is a stretch goal as projects are typically the most efficient way to consume resources that would otherwise be delivering business value in an endeavour that is doomed from the start.
    2. Judgment: Empower project staff to make decisions about methodology application and trade-offs between scope, schedule, and budget when necessary. This assists in scapegoating once any of these variables inevitably goes awry.
    3. Enterprise Perspective: Consider the impact of project decisions on enterprise value, not just project or PMO objectives. Note that “enterprise value” is a term broad enough to be totally useless – “project owner kudos” is a suitable definitional alternative.
    4. Shared Accountability: Create commitment to a shared vision of project outcomes. The most effective way to avoid delivering anything – make everyone accountable so nobody stands up.
    5. Stakeholder Partnership: Establish personal connections with stakeholders based on leadership, trust, and credibility. Or the four B’s: Brains, Bulldust, Bravado, and Balls.
    6. Proactivity: Take a proactive approach to identifying and resolving project challenges. Ahh, the foreseeable challenge – I think we call those “risks”. All good, but (alas) it’s the unforeseeable ones that really f__k you up.
    7. Risk Management: Enable informed tradeoffs between project and portfolio risks and potential rewards. Motherhood 1: Yes, you should manage risk. Only problem being risks never, and I mean NEVER, result in rewards. Perhaps you meant mitigation costs?
    8. Time Management: Encourage PMs to value time—both stakeholders’ and their own—when making project execution decisions and managing meetings. Motherhood 2: Don’t waste people’s time (seriously?).
    9. Cost Efficiency: Calibrate resource use and project management costs with project needs and expected returns. Ahh, this one is code for “I hope you have a hat, because it’s going to end up in your hand.”
    10. Reuse: When possible, utilize existing processes and tools before creating or buying new ones. Except when a senior stakeholder wants a new toy or change for change sake.

  • adam says:

    Hi Matthew -I liked your post, and 110% agree that what project management needs today is have a solid set of principles that sit outside any methodology or process, and guide us on our execution pathway. these principles should enable us to select whatever tools, processes or methodologies we feel are needed, without falling into a “paradigm trap”.

    whatever the principle set, I 100% agree that they should be bound into the day-to-day thinking of the teams is as many ways as possible.

    I found your post searching on “Principle-based Project Management”, because this is a topic of great interest to me.

    I’ve been writing on it extensively in recent months. I’ve developed only 5 principles, instead of 10.

    if you are interested, please check them out:

    http://adamonprojects.com/project-management-principles/

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