We’ve all worked on projects or at organizations where following project management processes and creating deliverables has become an end in itself, rather than the means to effective project delivery. On the other hand, we all have ‘go-to’ tools or templates that we swear by, believing they’re critical to project success. The trick is figuring out which tools and templates really do help.
To that end, CEB PMO Leadership Council has done extensive quantitative analysis on the effect of hundreds of project management processes, tools, and activities. As it turns out, the vast majority of them don’t matter that much to the effective delivery of project business outcomes. But a handful of them do. So which tools and templates should be part of every PM’s toolkit?
The Five Tools
The best project managers increase their chance of delivering project business benefits by using the following five tools:
- A shared vision of project success. The most effective PMs spend time up front documenting and building consensus on what success ‘looks like’ for their projects. They socialize this vision of success with key project stakeholders to make sure it is a shared one, and consistently return to it as a guide when faced with decisions about project scope change.
Involving the project sponsor and other stakeholders in creating a shared vision for the project can improve project business outcomes by over 30%.
- An assessment of risks to value delivery. The majority of project risk assessments focus almost exclusively on identifying project execution risks—things that will prevent delivery against budget, schedule, or scope targets.
The best PMs expand their risk assessment to include risks to business value delivery, including things like stakeholder engagement and user readiness.
- A stakeholder dossier. Leading PMs go beyond simple stakeholder management tasks like project status reporting or generic communications to build strong stakeholder partnerships. The foundation for these partnerships is a clear understanding of the motivations, posture toward project-related change, and influencing ability of key stakeholders.
By systematically capturing and using this information to tailor stakeholder engagement and communication, PMs can boost project business outcomes by up to 20%.
- A project interdependency map. In today’s highly interconnected project management environment PMs need to understand how their project impacts other projects, and how other projects might impact it.
Mapping and tracking these interdependencies—including data, deliverables, and common end users in addition to technical functionality—can increase project business outcomes by up to 52%.
- An evaluation of the project’s change impact. Just delivering the project isn’t enough to ensure that it achieves projected business benefits. The best PMs think hard about what types of change, e.g., role redesign, skills shifts, or a new reporting structure, the project requires from end users.
Effectively documenting this change up front and sequencing it across the project lifecycle can generate up to a 60% greater project business outcomes.