Organizations are now shifting their focus from project deliverables to project business benefits. Being on schedule, within budget, on scope and at quality is desired but not the ultimate goal. It is because successfully managing these constraints do not necessarily mean a successful project. Today, project stakeholders are more interested in things such as financial impact, time to market, parameters for success, and service integrity.
Companies and organizations initiate a project due to underlying business reasons. The reason why they build a product, start a service, or change a process is related to business growth, cost reduction, continuous operations, or productivity improvement. Project stakeholders approve and execute projects in order to gain expected business benefits after the delivery or implementation of projects. Developing a new process, for example, is initiated with the goal of streamlining operations and reducing cost.
Today’s Project Manager
Due to the shifting focus to project business benefits, there is now a need for project managers, experts in executing project work items, and project sponsors, experts in business benefits of projects, to be more actively engaged. Also, project managers should help the entire team to be aware of obstacles, as well as opportunities, in realizing these business benefits.
Modern PM Tools
Technology is helping today’s project manager to become more business-focused. Through enterprise project management software (EPM) such as AceProject, Wrike Enterprise, Central Desktop, AtTask, and Feng Office, project managers are able to effectively organize and track multiple concurrent projects efficiently as well as collaborate with a greater number of people across and even external to the organization effectively.
Also, project portfolio management (PPM) features of PM software such as LiquidPlanner, Clarizen, Project Insight, and Tenrox, are providing project managers, program managers and PMOs with tools to help them align projects and business plans, select projects that will bring bigger business benefits, and prioritize them according to goals or resources. Advanced features can show instant impact analysis reports, centralized change request, and prioritization of projects according to budget, resources and workload.
The Bigger Picture
Projects are not started independently or without consideration of the wider organizational goals. From well-defined goals and objectives, a clear business strategy will result. From this strategy, the organization can select and prioritize the right projects that will become its project portfolio. The project portfolio will then be continuously monitored and evaluated against the organization’s goals and objectives to make sure that the projects being undertaken correctly produce the business benefits aspired for. With the help of EPM and PPM software, project managers are able to see the big picture, become more familiar with the business side of the organization, and become a better business partner of the project sponsor.
Tomorrow’s Project Manager
Some PM thought leaders are predicting that the roles of the project sponsor and project manager will become more aligned and perhaps even be consolidated in the near future. Technology, through enterprise project management and project portfolio management software, is putting the spotlight on project and program managers, making them more visible in the organization. The PM side and the business side of companies are becoming more integrated. As a result, business-focused project managers are now ready to advance to senior executive and C-suite level positions.