When you think about it, projects are the main reason that businesses gain a competitive advantage over the competition. In an interview, the late Steve Jobs talked about how he moved the iPhone project ahead of the iPad initiative. He stated that the business case was strong for a mobile phone. In other words, he had the vision to see where Apple could gain a stronghold (Big Bucks) in the market. It’s obvious that his decision was the right one.
For those of you preparing for the Project Management Professional®exam, it’s important you have a clear idea of how the PMBOK®defines a project: A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result (p. 3, 5th ed.).
Here are examples of a project:
– The City of Baltimore officials approve an initiative to build two new libraries.
– Zamora Construction Company is hired to build a new store for an Aaron’s Sales and Lease franchisee.
– The University of North Dakota School of Business is given the go-ahead to add a Project Management certification program.
Providing Value to the Stakeholders
When launching a project, we must keep the stakeholders in mind. In other words, we need to know the benefit or value, such as:
– The City of Baltimore is going to improve its literacy rate in its community.
– An Aaron Sales and Lease franchisee will provide its products to consumers who need furniture, electronics, and computer equipment.
– The University of North Dakota will add a project program to provide project management training to working professionals.
In other words, the project work must be aligned with the organization’s mission and vision statements. By making sure there is a fit, the organization can leverage its human capital, equipment, and historical knowledge.
Projects Deliver a Product, Service, or Result
Projects must have a deliverable that is provided to the customer. In the Initiating Process Group, the sponsor (or customer) creates the project charter, which is the document that authorizes the project manager to launch the project.
We must ensure that the deliverables are stated in the project charter. That is, the customer must be clear with the tangible product, service, or result that they will receive. Thus, our communications plan requires that we engage the customer throughout the entire project. In some cases, formal sign-offs are required. However, the project manager must make it a habit to seek customer feedback via informal techniques, such as over a lunch meeting or through a webinar.
The top-notch organizations implement a project management process. To excel in managing projects, a process or methodology must exist. Just as important, leading companies provide in-house project management training for their employees. By doing so, a common body of knowledge is spoken throughout the organization.
While methodologies, frameworks, and processes are important, there is no substitute for leadership. Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, and Marissa Mayer are vision-oriented people who understand what the customers want today and in the future. Therefore, project management excellence requires both following a proven framework and an undeniable support of the company’s leadership team.