Breaking Down Barriers for Project Teams...Visually

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting Inc., an Ontario, Canada-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

When I speak to project managers about the challenges they are experiencing, there are some common themes that emerge. I’m sure most of them will be familiar to you: sponsors and stakeholders, unrealistic constraints, etc. Increasingly over the last couple of years, a new one has been added to the list: the challenge of managing a team to deliver business benefits when those benefits are not really understood.

The need to deliver projects that prioritize achieving business goals over simply hitting the triple constraint is something that many organizations have recognized in recent years, and they have taken steps to drive that behavior into projects. This manifests itself as teams being empowered to initiate changes if it improves overall project performance against business needs, to sacrifice scope, schedule or budget in favor of the greater organizational good, etc.

The problem many project managers are facing is that their teams (and often the project managers themselves) don’t have the insight into the business to be confident they are making the right decisions. This either leads to mistakes being made or it generates escalations to stakeholders that undermine the whole point of empowering the team in the first place.

It’s not enough to simply communicate business purpose to the project team, there has to be an understanding of what that means&…

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