Maybe it’s time for a ‘Change’ regarding Project Managers’ place in the organization

Having a “Vision” is Job One Most organizations in North America have invested considerable time and effort into developing Value and Mission Statements for themselves. These are usually prominently displayed on their home page, in their reception areas, and on all their marketing collateral. They are also used as a rallying cry internally for their staff. I generally enjoy reading these as, well first and foremost they are short and succinct. I also find most of them to be well crafted with some interesting and quotable phrases embedded in them. However they often only address three of the four critical areas they need to. Most set some very lofty and noteworthy goals and standards and they usually always focus on Quality as the top motivator for their company, Customer service as their main driver and their employees or their People as their greatest asset. Search any of these mission statements and you’ll find some great phrases such as: “….. is dedicated to improving life by treating and preventing human disease”; “We reach out to our communities through work and volunteerism, enhancing the world around us”; “Our people make the difference”; “We value your business and will do our utmost to ensure your relationship with us is a long and satisfying one”; “We are an inspired diverse team, we respect and value everyone’s contribution”; “..… has never lost sight of the fact that it is in business to exceed the expectations of it’s customers”.. Inspiring stuff but: I often think there is another key concept that is very seldom included in these visionary declarations. There’s a key word that is nearly always noticeable for its absence. A word that does in fact describe the one true constant that every organization in every business sector has to address every day, especially in today’s business environment - Change! Where are the rallying statements like “we embrace change”, ‘change is our driving force” or “we constantly strive to change for the better”? I believe that we, in the Project Management profession, are suffering from this common oversight but also feel that we are partly to blame. At numerous Project Management presentations and discussions I constantly hear the frustrations that most PM professionals have regarding a perceived lack of support they get from their executives. I wonder if that would still be the case if organizations believed that their number one consideration must be Change? That quality would quickly get left in the competitors dust, their customers would leave in droves and their employees would stagnate without constant but managed Change.

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The PM dilemma So why are we responsible? Well, I’ll offer two causes: Our ongoing inability to develop some basic project metrics so that we can demonstrate our value is the major cause; the other, and the one I’m currently more concerned with, is how we position ourselves in the organizational hierarchy. I think that more and more, Project Management is becoming a process rather than a strategic function and/or enabler, both in reality and in perception. It’s clearly a very powerful process and tool kit, but a process nonetheless. So where do we belong? We need to disassociate ourselves from the tool somewhat and concentrate more on our strategic value. I think we should consider ourselves as Change Managers instead of Project Managers! I realize that Change Management has been a very overused and abused phrase over the years but we now need to consider it in its broadest sense as a key corporate function. Lets review a typical organizational hierarchy: Operations Management is a key part of any manufacturing organization whose leader is always part of the senior executive team. So are the Sales, Marketing, Finance, IT and HR departments. They all have very significant delivery responsibilities and so have very powerful toolkits that enable the effective and efficient execution of their role. For example, Operations has MRP based processes and tools to manage their scheduling and shop floor processes. Similarly, Sales has CRM, IT has software development lifecycle tools; Finance the accounting and financial modeling tools, etc. So why shouldn’t organizations also have a Change Management function that utilizes the PM processes and tools to keep the organization moving in the right direction? This means it’s time for a Change! Is your Project Management Office or PMO just a ‘bookkeeping’ or ‘gatekeeping’ operation and therefore fairly toothless? I’m betting that a CMO or Change Management Office that can champion and demonstrate the successful initiation and management of Change would get much more support and funding. Do your recommendations for implementing Project Portfolio Management constantly fall on deaf ears? Do you think a proposal for Change Portfolio Management would suffer the same fate? Some would argue that the answer to our dilemma lies in PM not being properly represented at the senior executive level. No argument here, but then they claim that we would receive the support and recognition we need if only we were represented by a CPO or Chief Project Officer. But in my view that’s like saying an organization needs a Chief MRP Officer, A Chief CRM Officer, etc..

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No, I think what organizations need more than ever before is a CCO or a Chief Change Officer. A senior executive who would lead not only the organization’s PM community but other change initiators and managers such as the BPI, re-engineering or 6 Sigma teams, maybe even the engineering groups and/or R&D team. More importantly, the person empowered to ensure that the organization is properly identifying the need and areas for change (both big and small) and that it is properly positioned and equipped to accomplish those changes. The spiritual and functional leader who would then empower us to ensure that all the approved change initiatives happen in a controlled and orderly fashion. I think getting a CCO and getting “Change” embedded in the Value and Mission Statements would be our greatest ever breakthrough. So, PMI and project professionals everywhere, I think it’s time for a Change, what do you think?

About Peter Green Peter Green is Vice President of Implementation Services at SPM Group Ltd and brings over twenty five years of experience in leading and managing large initiatives. Peter holds an Honors Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and has been a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) since 1999 and a dedicated project professional since 1996. Peter works well at the senior executive level assisting in decision making and has consistently shown his skill as an excellent leader, facilitator and problem solver through his wide variety of project leadership, consulting, re-engineering and strategic planning assignments. About SPM Group Ltd SPM is a management consulting firm with over 12 years of experience providing project management solutions to clients. SPM is known for delivering results that enable change. Understanding the unique challenges facing business today, SPM is able to provide a solution customized to the client’s needs. With three practice areas, SPM covers the full spectrum required by our clients, combining to form a total solution. • Consulting delivers solutions to clients business issues and challenges • Professional Development assists clients develop the people assets required to deliver their initiatives • Implementation Services “Make it Happen”, enabling clients to deliver their initiatives It is our people that make the difference. Our people are the best in the industry combining experience, knowledge, creativity and a results oriented approach. Success is defined solely by the success attained by our clients.

SPM Group Ltd www.spmgroup.ca 416-485-1584 or Toll Free 1-877-776-3886