By Dave Wakeman
I spend a lot of time focusing on value and ROI. For a project manager, it's often a challenge to understand how to communicate your role in terms of value or ROI. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
The fact is that without strong project management and project principles in place, most projects wouldn’t come close to realizing any ROI or creating value for their organizations.
So how can project managers begin thinking and expressing their success and impact in terms of value? Here are a few ways:
1. It isn’t about actions, it’s about outcomes.
It can be tough to think in terms of outcomes with all of the various requirements built into your project’s plan. Or with a sponsor sitting over your shoulder asking about every minute detail.
But your goal is to produce a project that creates value for your organization and client. You don’t do that with a list of activities you have completed. You do that with the outcomes those activities produce as a whole.
To begin to turn your thinking around, instead of stating the tasks you’ve completed, start stating your accomplishments like this:
“Based on our objective to create a new drilling platform that has the following functions, we have successfully created the framework for the platform and have integrated these three features into the framework. We are on schedule to finish the remaining features within our predicted timeframe.”
2. Ask questions based on intended impact.
Too many project managers find themselves in environments where their input isn’t desired, their thoughts aren’t respected, and they feel reluctant to ask questions.
That’s a terrible situation. And, if it’s a common experience, I’d advise you to put down this article and go find a new job, because you deserve better than that.
If you’re merely failing to ask good questions, you need to get over that right away. Questions empower you as a leader.
The questions you ask should be directed toward the intended impact of the project on the stakeholders, the sponsor and the organization. So ask strong questions like:
- “What will this project mean to the stakeholders?”
- “Why is this project being prioritized right now?”
- “What should we be on the lookout for as possible challenges to the project’s success?
These kinds of questions will empower you with two things: knowledge to make better decisions within your project and the context to explain and communicate those decisions to your team and key stakeholders.
3. Measure your work in a meaningful way.
In so many businesses, we hear about data and measurements.
What does much of it mean? Not really a lot, in too many instances.
To refocus your project management efforts and maximize your ability to talk in terms of the value of your projects and your leadership, you have to measure the outcomes in a meaningful way.
Here are some examples:
- Because of these improvements in processes and decision-making, we saved 5 percent on costs and came in 3 percent earlier than expected.
- By making the decision to fast-track this part of the project, we were able to free up these resources, and that enabled us to realize a 10-percent gain in productivity.
The key here is to make sure you focus on making things meaningful and measurable. Being fast or cheap is one thing, but being better, faster and cheaper is what counts.
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