This concept came to mind when I saw a recent discussion post in a LinkedIn project management group.  The post was titled “How should small companies start implementing project management practices?” Some people were responding “why just look at small companies – why not all organizations?”  But I get it.  Most larger organizations have PM practices in place – albeit often ineffective ones.  Or they are large enough it’s very difficult for one person to jump in and make a difference quickly.  You know … bureaucracy.

But with smaller organizations, an experience project manager or consultant could step in and make recommendations and - given the proper amount of authority – start hiring people, creating a practice, and truly implement a practice of managing projects and customers and teams productively.  In other words, they could get some action going quickly – they could get the job done without too much red tape slowing everything down.

So, what would it take?  For me, it took a start-up CEO with a need to find me out on the website, pay me a high enough hourly rate to make me say, “um, ok … I’m onboard with that” and then give me open access to everyone and everything that was going on with their troubled projects so that I could figure out why their customers were unhappy and what we all needed to do to make them happy.  That won’t always be the case in every organization – some will lack the confidence to give such access or take such a bold step.  And some won’t even be looking to bring in a hired gun to whip everything in to shape – they’ll be asking people from within to work together to make it happen.  In other words, they’ll work with what they have and try to wrap PM practices around that.

However they do it, there are few things that need to happen to make it really work – to make it “make a difference” going forward:

Make sure the CEO is onboard with it

A good project management practice begins and ends with the CEO giving it his blessing … or not.  If the top of the organization isn’t onboard – you might as well not proceed because they won’t value it, they won’t explain it’s value to the customers, and it will die a painful death.

CEO of project management company

But if the CEO IS onboard, anything is possible.  It will be the next big thing in the company.  The CEO will tout it to their customers – expectations will be high and enthusiasm will be, too.  And that will only serve to help the project managers or consultant or whoever is trying to get this off the ground gain confidence and compliance from those in the organization that they need it most from – mainly those who will become part of their project teams.

Come up with an implementation strategy that involves best practices

Next, best practices must be setup, documented, and rolled out to everyone.  Templates and documentation must be put in place.  Best practices in PM center around creating repeatable processes so that projects can be led successfully over and over again without trying to re-invent the wheel every time.  That’s how ongoing success is realized – otherwise success is just luck.

Educate the development staff on the process

In an IT organization, the development staff will often be a significant portion of your project team.  That’s where your developer or developers come from.  That’s where your technical lead comes from.  The individuals who put together the technical documentation on the project likely come from this group as do any performance tuners, system architects, and possibly even your data integration specialists.  You must educate them in the PM process and make sure they are onboard.  The developers can sometimes be a rebel group used to working in their own space on their own time and with their own direction.  PM practices change all that.  Get their understanding and buy-in.

Roll it out to the customers