Develop Those Collaborative Project Management Skills

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post by Jim Kiser of GEP.

According to PMI's 2014 Pulse of Profession report, “Organizations today face a chasm between what they should be doing — aligning projects to their strategy — and what they are able to accomplish. As a result, 44% of strategic initiatives are unsuccessful.” With this recent statistic in mind, avoiding the probability of failure is greater if really strong up-front planning is done. Effective project management planning provides the assigned team with a framework to guide the project and help them utilize tools to measure the results.

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Many procurement individuals underutilize project management planning skills as part of their sourcing or category management process. Even worse, they don’t involve all key stakeholders needed to ensure internal requirements are met. Half the battle is choosing the right management sponsorship and guidance. A collaborative approach is to provide stakeholders, team leaders and team members an agreed-upon reference point to guide them through a project to successful completion.

How do you go collaborative? Several components make up a well-defined project plan:

  1. Senior management direction and support. Senior managers or project sponsors are responsible for determining the strategic direction, resource allocation and objectives. They are also the link between the project team and the executive management who are driving the overall company objectives and direction.
  2. Assembling the team. The project team must be comprised of the right individuals with the appropriate backgrounds and skill sets. The team can include professionals from any number of internal departments or disciplines.
  3. Roles, responsibilities, authority and accountability. Once assembled, the team should identify a leader who will be accountable for formulating the plan and overseeing any ongoing processes, such as coordinating project tasks and assigning staff. The remaining team members will have their roles, responsibilities and authority clearly outlined in the plan.
  4. Team process. The leader and team members are responsible for determining the working process of the team and clearly outlining it in the plan. The actual work process will be dependent on the stated goal and tasks best suited to attain that goal.
  5. Business objectives. The project plan must clearly state the project’s objective and its relevance to the business overall objectives. Sponsors are responsible for ensuring that these goals are in alignment.
  6. Project process map. The leader and the team should outline the steps in the project using a process map that shows the major steps that the team will work through.
  7. Project planning tools. A number of tools must be made available to project managers to use during the planning process. This includes everything from simple computer spreadsheets to illustrate tasks to complex data collection/data mining instruments for benchmarking a measurable goal.
  8. Measurement and tracking. Finally, a solid project plan will have clearly defined measurement metrics and benchmarks to check progress. What is being measured or tracked should be benchmarked at the outset and parameters identified for the team to assess their progress against stated goals.

The collaborative sourcing process can provide the project team with up-front senior management support, clear strategic direction and the right tools to manage a project to its desired conclusion. Developing and maintaining effective project management systems bridges the gap between the end products or services your company offers and what the customer really desires.

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