Raising the Profile of Project Management in Your Organization
Project managers know that good project management practices help organizations achieve better results with tighter cost control and a stronger focus on managing risk. In business terms, project management helps you deliver more with less.
You know that. But do people higher up the organization understand it in the same way? The role of project management professional hasn’t been around as long as, say, the role of accountant. It’s less well-understood. So it helps to spend some time thinking about raising the profile of project management in your organization and talking to your managers about it.
Why your PR effort matters
Shouldn’t leadership teams just know you are doing a good job? That’s a nice theory. However, it’s the people who are best able to promote themselves internally who land the corner office. It’s a workplace truth that managers don’t automatically notice the star performers if they keep their heads down and just get on with the job.
It’s the same with project management. Project management yields important results, but raising the profile of what it’s all about will help build credibility and reputation across the business.
For example, some positive public relations about project management will help in the following areas:
- To secure investment for project management software or training
- To help build engagement in project processes
- To help obtain resources.
How to shout about project management
Here are five ways for you to raise the profile of project management in your organization.
1. Share your results
Make it easy for stakeholders to get their hands on your results. Give them access to your collaboration software so they can review dashboards themselves. Set up tailored dashboards where they can see what matters to them. The data should be real-time and easily accessible. Don’t expect busy executives to hunt for anything.
2. Be transparent
Project management isn’t a dark art. Keeping the knowledge about your processes and tools to yourself doesn’t make you look more knowledgeable; it just alienates people. Gone are the “knowledge is power” days. Today, we all throw what we know into the pot to make the business the best it can be. Work on the basis of transparency and openness, and expect others to do the same.
3. Deliver on your promises
This is the simplest single thing you can do. No need to set up any special processes. Build a reputation for delivery by delivering. Every time. It’s a slow burn, but from the most off-hand “I’ll send you an email” to the most formal “You’ll have the business case by Friday”, follow through each and every time.
This is also a good place to stress the importance of teamwork. Make sure your team is aligned behind your desire to deliver on your promises and that they also follow through. Raising the profile of project management isn’t a one-person job, so tackle it collaboratively.
4. Ditch the jargon
“I’ll update the WBS and the Gantt, and ping you the RACI chart and the latest EVM figures for sign off.”
Project management is full of jargon. Don’t use it. OK, you can use it when you’re talking to your team, as they’ll understand it. Jargon is a shortcut to a common understanding and it can be extremely helpful as a way of speeding up conversations and providing clarity. But for your senior business managers who don’t use it every day? Consider it a foreign language they have yet to gain proficiency in.
Translate your project management plans to language that your business leaders will understand. Talk in terms that they will recognize and stress the benefits, not the journey.
5. Show how you add value
Raising the profile of project management in your organization works best when it’s backed up with tangible examples. You need to be able to demonstrate how you and your team are adding value. Otherwise it’s just rhetoric.
These five tips are a good starting point, but none of your profile-raising efforts will work if you aren’t focusing your efforts on communicating the right things. This is because “value” means different things to different people.
You know that you need to show you’re adding value, but first you have to establish exactly what this means to your senior executives. Is it delivering on time? On budget? Both? Is it customer satisfaction, employee productivity or quality?
The easiest way to find out what your management team values is to ask them. You’ll probably receive different answers, and that’s to be expected. But your responses will still help you tailor your conversations to hit the right tone for each individual.
Next time you follow up with a particular manager you’ll know how you can best talk about what you’re doing in terms that are meaningful to that individual, and that show you’ve really listened and understand what they value. It’s even better if you can tie your project results back to the organization’s strategic plan and core values.
It might sound like a lot of effort but it’s really not. You know how to work with senior project stakeholders because your team collaborates with them all the time. It’s only extending the same principles to line managers and above. A few targeted, results-driven, jargon-free conversations and you’ll soon be building the profile of project management within your business.
Tell us how you raise the profile of project management in your organization.
Elizabeth Harrin runs the blog, A Girl’s Guide to Project Management. She thinks that being able to celebrate the value of your project starts with defining what success looks like. Read her ultimate guide to project success criteria to find out more.