You can sell the value of project management in your organization
Do you think selling project management in your organization is a dream or a reality? During several years, I have asked this question to project management professionals from Italy, Switzerland, UK, Denmark, UAE, Germany, USA, Portugal and Spain.
The most frequent comments were, “It is not a reality today in my organization. Executives think project management is only for project managers, so they are not ready to listen to me. They believe project management is not for them.” Others said, “Project management is only for difficult projects; project management is only tactical.” Some of them mentioned, “My management team is reluctant because they believe that implementing project management in our organization implies generating more overhead.” All these answers point to a lack of project management understanding among many managers in organizations worldwide.
I have been a project management “salesman” for many years in different organizations, so I know you must believe in the power of project management or you will not be able to sell it. When the number of projects increases in organizations, managers are more willing to consider project management because they worry more about project results.
As a follow-up question, I asked, “How much time do you spend with your management team speaking about your project?” Most answered 10-15 minutes every month. That’s interesting because it shows that we, as project managers, spend very little time speaking to our managers about our projects. With such infrequent communication, we shouldn’t be surprised project management does not seem important to them.
Most organizations have many projects, but managers do not hear what is needed for their projects to succeed. Project managers must speak truthfully and boldly to company executives, because they are the ones who can empower them. The health of their projects depends on it.
Selling project management in organizations is a continuous effort that requires project managers to have technical skills as well as people skills. While the technical skills will ensure success in the trenches, the people skills will guarantee the message reaches the heights. In gaining executives buy-in, the best skills often are passion, persistence, patience and faith. The selling of project management takes a long time, but the best sellers are the true believers.
Selling project management in organizations is a continuous effort that requires project managers to have technical skills as well as people skills.
Organizations dedicate very little time to educating their managers in the basics of the project management discipline. However, that’s not the biggest problem—project managers need to spend more time educating organizational leaders about why the methodology is necessary. Executives also need to be trained in project management, because they must know all the implications their decisions have throughout the project life cycle.
Some years ago, PMI published research regarding “selling project management to executives.” That study focuses information from different industries, government organizations and private firms. All of the data demonstrates that project management is considered increasingly important in all industries, but executives have not been prepared to understand it.
The main problem I found was that executives don’t have time to listen to project managers. It is often hard to even convince them to spend some minutes with you to talk about project management. I treat an executive to lunch, allowing us to talk face-to-face outside the project environment about business. I try to explain the potential improvement the company would have if projects were linked to strategy. The word “strategic” is like a magic wand. That’s the language managers understand.
Please reflect upon this article, plan and take action. You can do it because you are an excellent professional.
TODAY IS A GOOD DAY and TOMORROW WILL BE BETTER!
Alfonso Bucero, MSc, PMP, PMI-RMP, PfMP, PMI Fellow