“Some things are just done by themselves. Recall the pure joy of riding on a backyard swing: The swing carries us; we do not force it. We pump our legs to drive our arc higher, but gravity does most of the work. Our job is simply to work with the shell, to stop holding it back with our thrashing struggles to go faster. Trying too hard sabotages boat speed.”

― David Allen, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

With project economy on the rise, everybody agrees on projects as the basic management structures in every organization –public/private, non/for profit– at every industry, anywhere in the world. Wherever an operational change is needed, or a new product needs to be built, this must be managed as a project.

Nowadays, more organizations are interested in project management maturity improvement. With the boom in agile project management, and the adoption of holacracy as a management and government system in many organizations, there is a decrease in the application of formal maturity models, such as OPM3OPM, etc., and a movement towards role-based distributed authority agile approaches like SAFeDALeSS, etc.

Organizational Project Management maturity can be managed top-down, aiming compliance to formal frameworks, or bottom-up, guiding teams on basic principles and waiting for people to do the rest. This is the approach that agile methods have followed, with extraordinary effectiveness, diffusion and application.

Let’s take Scrum, for instance. This methodological framework could not possibly be any simpler: 3 roles, 3 artifacts and 4 ceremonies.

Scrum effectiveness, however, is based on the huge amount of implicit good practices occurring unnoticed, just because people follow certain ceremonies:

  • Requirement management.
  • Prioritization, decomposition, decoupling.
  • Adaptive planning: progressive, product, release, biweekly, daily planning.
  • Value driven delivery following iterative-incremental life cycles.
  • Problem detection and resolution.
  • Communication and transparency inside/outside the team.
  • Team performance.
  • Continuous improvement.
  • Separation of the what (stakeholders, product owner) and the how (development team).
  • Expectations management and stakeholder engagement.
  • There is no estimate padding, no scope creep, deadlines are always met.
  • Etc.

Only coaches need to be aware of what is happening behind the scene. Team members “are simply being swung” by ceremonies. The outcome, at the organization level, is maturity. It blossoms spontaneously, without trying, just organic and naturally.

Could we translate the Spotify case –top maturity at operation management– to maturity at project management, for any organization?

Some good practices to guide organizations to Agile Organizational Project Management are: 1) collaborative roles; 2) project status reporting; 3) many stakeholders watching; and 4) process simplification using online tools.

1) Collaborative Roles

Projects can be considered as self-organizing units led by a PM, including other roles with different goals. As we described in this article, professional project management roles can be separated in 2 sides:

  • Demand Management: People who propose projects and monitor performance.
  • Supply Management: People who use human and material resources to execute projects.

2) Project Status Reporting

There is a high correlation between project success and effective monitoring and control. Projects failing seriously, with long delays and high over costs, all of them suffer from bad practices on project status reporting. Conversely, successful projects implement good governance with rigorous project status reviews: measuring deviations against baselines, estimating forecasts, taking corrective actions to meet management goals on schedule, cost, scope, quality, etc. Project steering committees oversight project performance. Project managers report global performance, scope, schedule, cost, etc.

3) Many Watchful Stakeholders

Projects can publish relevant management information at given intervals, so that many stakeholders can see high level and detailed data on schedule, scope, cost, etc. Stakeholder can provide feedback to the PM, comments, change requests, etc. If a project management team is constantly aware of those “vigilant eyes”, they will try to keep management up to date, and they will take the best decisions.

4) Process Simplification using Online Tools

Professional project management is no longer effective if projects are managed in isolation –project team makes all– or by managed by meetings or by reporting. Stakeholders need continuous collaboration to achieve the project management goals –on quality, scope, time, cost, etc. In this hyper connected world, continuous collaboration in projects means online collaboration to take informed decisions and propose actions proactively. Projects need this kind of distributed collaboration, specially. Organizations need agile transparency mechanisms on project statuses, avoiding bureaucracy related to documentation or status meetings. They need online real time reporting, instead.

Organizations leading the project economy should make management processes lean: avoiding bureaucracy, approval work flows, documents, follow-up meetings, etc. Today, this is doable thanks to Project Portfolio Management (PPM) tools.

In a mature organization, any stakeholder, steering committee member, sponsor, customer, etc., should be able to access easily to project state information kept for every review date.

Any stakeholder should easily access a dashboard like this to check global performance:

Any stakeholder should easily access a chart like this summing up schedule performance:

… a chart like this to check cost performance:

… a chart like this to check team performance:

… a chart like this to check funding performance:

PMPeople helps organizational project management, using agile principles, empowering people collaborating on project management:

  1. Collaborative Roles: Team members are clear about their assignments. They can submit comments easily. Project managers can do servant leadership. Among other roles, some are specialized in managing portfolios, programs and projects. Specializing roles is essential for strategic alignment, benefit realization and value orientation.
  2. Project Status Reporting: Projects report status regularly. On each review date, project performance is analyzed and corrective or preventive actions are taken, making more projects meet management goals.
  3. Many Watchful Stakeholders: Each project is followed by many stakeholders, and they can request changes and provide feedback easily. Project managers provide regular updates to stakeholders, sponsors, engaging committee members when corrective actions are needed.
  4. Process Simplification using Online Tools: Projects are chartered properly, involving expert judgment, so that most value adding projects are approved, minimizing non value projects execution. Different roles use a common standard terminology, reducing workflows and documents, implicitly applying management frameworks despite not being experts, being able to manage projects using their mobile phone.

Start using PMPeople for free, for unlimited time and for any number of users. In premium organizations, only managers have to pay. Several roles are always free: stakeholders, team members, sponsors, resource managers. You can increase or decrease your premium users according to the organization actual needs. Premium organizations have access to our interactive support through Slack.