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effective project management

Organizations feel the effects of poor leadership in project management pervasively.

Many of the most common project ailments–including a lack of clear requirements, regular miscommunication and lagging schedules and bloated budgets–all come down to poor leaderhsip. Project managers alone can’t overcome these issues—the leaders above and around them need to provide the support, resources, and buy-in to help project managers get initiatives off the ground.

Consider this: Once a project begins, managers must make difficult tradeoffs throughout its lifecycle. Without adept and discerning leaders, the wrong tradeoffs, messaging, and priorities could sneak into the process.

Effective leadership is generally the difference in a company’s ability to successfully shepherd initiatives across the finish line. And if you’re looking for reasons why projects fail in your organizations, start the search up top.

How to Snuff Out the Effects of Poor Leadership in Project Management

Ineffective leadership leaves its fingerprints all over failed projects. These three steps can help uncover them:

1. Strengthen the Initiation phase.

Many times, projects are dead on arrival. When leaders don’t spend enough time developing a business case for a project, there can be numerous knock-on effects: an incomplete project charter, poorly defined goals, an ill-conceived project plan, and so on.

Those struggles usually point to a shaky foundation. Look at every part of your initiation phase, from project selection and validation to the project charter.

Are the charters you’re creating clearly and completely laying out the project’s Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How? Are they putting the right people in the right roles? Do they have all the necessary resources? Leadership signs off on all these details, so if you notice any trends of things that are missing, you should begin your auditing process there.

2. ESTABLISH the SIX project roles.

Project management comes down to more than just the project manager. The success of a project heavily relies on the organization’s ability to provide project managers with the necessary support, collaboration, and tools.

Project management involves six key roles that form the basis of control: Leadership, Expertise, Analysis, Scheduling, Coordination, and Administration. Organizations need to supplement project managers with these supporting roles and grant them the authority to delegate tasks in a smooth and integrated process. This delegation is integral to a company’s delivery as it helps keep projects under control and ensures their flawless execution.

When project managers are asked to do it all on their own, they get bogged down in details below their pay grades. Worse yet, tasks can go unfulfilled, leaving mission-critical tasks and initiatives vulnerable to failure.

Organizations that establish all six roles are able to maintain control of their initiatives and deliver reliable and predictable success that maximizes the return on their project portfolio.

3. nail the requirements.

Ask almost any department the reasons why projects fail, and they’ll likely say it’s tactical. It’s easy to play Monday morning QB with what could have been done differently, but often the issue is much more fundamental than that. Sometimes the problem with a project is that the team wasn’t clear enough on what they were setting out to achieve in the first place.

This question of “What does the project need to be” is answered through clearly defined requirements. If the requirements aren’t explicit, clear, and tangible, even the most impeccable delivery is doomed. Teams will either deliver the outcomes wrong or deliver the wrong outcomes.

Although the reasons why projects fail are many, it often comes down to a few issues related to planning, roles, and requirements. Leadership plays a hand in each area, so begin your project failure review there. The chances are good that you’ll identify the root cause, then make the necessary adjustments in the future.

If you’d like to learn more about the project management process or hear about one of our PM solutions, let us know. We’d be happy to discuss your business and find an option perfectly suited to your needs.

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