Own your project’s story (HT @MelanieDuzyj and @mkrigsman)

We all should know how critical project communication is to project success.   A compelling story can build strong sponsorship and sustain stakeholder commitment, even in the most challenging of circumstances (also see Michael Krigsman’s project success checklist) .  However, many project managers assume that their audiences — or even worse, key influencers and “re-communicators” — understand the story as well as they do.

The group blog at BlissPR has a useful post by Julie Johnson on “Getting the Details Right“.  I’ve often suggested that project managers leverage what their PR professionals more.  IMO, the ability to influence is an essential behavior for an initiative leader.  Why not listen and learn from people who know?

In this case, the lessons for driving accurate press coverage apply well to any project that needs to own and drive its story.  Simply substitute “project” for “company” or “industry”, and “stakeholders” for “media”. 

  • It’s more important than ever for a company to take control of its reputation – after all, you either control your reputation or someone else will
  • Educating media about a company or an industry can be even more important than garnering coverage
  • The story you tell must be simple – especially when the truth is complicated

Executive Support: Demonstrating the Value of PM

Executive buy-in and support: more comments on the first results of the PMI Value of PM study, earlier posts (here , here, here, here, and here).

Value measures should first focus on the tangible (e.g., ROI, better margin) or making the intangible more tangible (e.g., tying customer satisfaction to revenue or reduced escalation costs).  In addition, I would also suggest that one should also look at how much value one’s executives attribute to project management.  Of course, the initiative has to have delivered results.  But many PMOs forget to ensure that senior leadership understands exactly how PM improvement translates to the firm’s bottom-line, top-line, brand value, etc.

One of the most powerful endorsements of SAP’s project management efforts came from the current CEO of SAP America, Greg Tomb.  During our global services leadership summit, each regional leader presents a short presentation on the “whats and whys” of his/her unit’s performance.  When Greg was discussing the excellent revenue, margin, and customer satisfaction results in the Americas, he explicitly credited project management as the foundation for all three.

“Public” and vocal executive references are some of the best intangible value proof points.  Not only was the recognition appreciated by the Americas PMO leadership, it also reinforced the global PMO message to the rest of the global leadership team: project management works.

Why DID we need the value of PM study?

Per a recent comment by Dr. Paul Gianmalvo (URL here, post and comment here), the results of the value of PM study do sound like they simply confirm the value of motherhood, apple pie, and clean living.  As Paul notes:

Yes, project management adds value. Of course it does!!! What alternatives are there?

I agree that the answer is obvious: competent project management is indispensable.  In fact, I believe that outstanding project management is a competitive advantage.  But that fact hasn’t always been obvious to the folks who approve project management: senior executives.  When pitching PMO and other project performance improvement initiatives, too many project management professionals launch into assertions of the value of PM.  I know… I’ve done it and see it again and again.

To me, the stunning results from the study are not that PM has value, but how poorly we still calculate and communicate the returns on our organizations’ investments.  Only 50 percent of PM organizations bother to calculate ROI?  Those must be some confident, complacent, or perhaps foolish PMOs.

When it comes time to show benefits from a PM improvement program’s outcomes, silence is death.

Increased Customer Satisfaction: Demonstrating the Value of PM

SAP PM-specific success stories: 2004-2006

Showing customer value: more comments on the first results of the PMI Value of PM study, earlier posts (here , here, and here).

SAP customer satisfaction scores have shown strong improvement over the last few years, but project management satisfaction is rising faster than the overall SAP Consulting customer satisfaction. While we have surveys that demonstrate this result, an even more tangible measure of this satisfaction is the huge increase in project management success stories.

The field loves success stories, because they highlight the role of SAP Project Management in ensuring customer success during implementation projects.  Customers go “on the record” to make powerful statements about exactly how SAP Project Management supported their projects and programs.  For examples in a number of industries, click here for a list of SAP Project Management success stories (or search here using the search string “SAP Project Management” success stories).

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