What to Expect: Anticipating and Adapting to Dynamic Economic Trends
project management office,
critical success factors,
Managing for Stakeholders,
Categories: Project Leadership, Continuous Learning, Collaboration, Servant Leadership, Priorities, Value, Cultural Awareness, project management office, Project Failure, Best Practices, Project Delivery, Metrics, project management, critical success factors, Managing for Stakeholders, execution, Project Success, Culture, Project Dependencies, Business Transformation, Transformation, Disruption, Design Thinking, Project Management, Cost, Risk, Career Development, Stakeholder, Change Management, Leadership, Program Management, Benefits Realization, Complexity, Consulting, Decision Making, Business Analysis, IT Strategy, Business Case
By Peter Tarhanidis, Ph.D.
In the ever-evolving landscape of corporate strategic planning, organizations face the perpetual dilemma of choosing between capital spending for growth—and optimizing operations for efficiency. Striking the right balance amidst economic trends and leveraging organizational strengths becomes paramount when navigating through strategic projects. Meeting shareholder and stakeholder needs, while aligning with the organization's mission, presents a constant challenge.
To anticipate potential initiatives, project managers must consider global macroeconomic conditions and CEO outlooks. A preliminary assessment based on the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects and OECD Economic Outlook reports for 2024 reveals a projected global economic growth slowdown from 2.7% to 2.4%. This trend suggests a delicate balance between slow growth and regional divergences. Key considerations include:
Examining the corporate landscape, a survey of 167 CEOs in December 2023 indicated a confidence index of 6.3 out of 10 for the 2024 economy—the highest of the year. The CEO upsurge assumes inflation is under control, the Fed may not raise interest rates and instead reverse rates, setting up a new cycle of growth. Furthering the CEO agenda, McKinsey & Co. identified eight CEO 2024 priorities:
As project managers, navigating the uncertainty of economic shifts necessitates staying vigilant. The year may bring variables and predictions that impact the execution probability of strategic projects. Shifting between growth plans and efficiency drivers demands different preparation. To stay prepared, consider the following:
In an environment of perpetual change, proactive monitoring, adaptability and strategic collaboration will be key to successfully steering projects through the dynamic economic landscape.
How else can you stay prepared as the demands shift on you and your team?
By Sree Rao, PMP, PgMP, PMI-ACP
We are almost at the end of 2023! As I take a moment to reflect on this wild ride of a year, here are three key lessons I learned that I wanted to share with you all.
1. Embrace change: Projects are like a box of chocolates…you never know which ones might get canceled.
It was super demotivating. But as technology continues to evolve, customer needs shift and market trends change, it's essential to stay flexible and change course as strategy demands. If you ever have to deal with such a situation, rather than feeling demotivated you should embrace it as an opportunity for growth and learning. By doing so, you'll be better equipped to lead your team through the ups and downs.
One of my mentors gave this perspective, which has helped me immensely: “We get paid to do the work without promises that the features/projects will be released to production. So as long as you get paid and you are continuing to learn, do your best work and leave the rest.”
What I realized is that we can pursue our interests in other ways and means instead of completely switching careers or trying to turn hobbies into a living. We can pursue our passions/interests in small ways like finding opportunities in the domain that we are interested in. As an example, if your hobby is photography and photo editing, perhaps you could continue being a program manager but find a job in a company that specializes in photo editing software like Adobe.
Find the domain or area that brings you joy—whether it's event management, innovation or team building—and find opportunities in that domain. When you enjoy what you do, everyone benefits—not just your own well-being, but also your program's success.
As a program manager, we have the privilege of working with talented team members who contribute their skills and expertise to our projects. Rather than thinking “they are doing their job,” make it a point to express gratitude toward them regularly. A simple "thank you" or acknowledgement can go a long way in building positive relationships within your team
By embracing these three lessons, you'll be better equipped to navigate the challenges of program management in 2024 and beyond. Remember, as a program manager, our role goes beyond managing projects; it's about leading people, fostering collaboration and driving impactful results.
As we bid farewell to another year, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you for your thoughtful comments and engagement. (A special shoutout to our editor Cameron for inspiring me to write and for shaping my musings a better way). Wishing you all a blessed 2024!
By Sree Rao, PMP, PgMP, PMI-ACP
During my initial phases as a technical program manager, I was heavily focused on the execution of programs and didn’t bother much with strategy. As I gained more experience, I realized the importance of understanding strategy and how it can uplevel us as program managers.
Based on my experience, there is a common misconception that TPMs only play a role in program execution once a strategy has been determined. Strategy plays a crucial role in determining the success of any program, so in this post I will discuss why being plugged into strategy is essential for TPMs.
Strategy vs Plan: Understanding the Differences
What is Strategic Management?
One of the key benefits of strategic management is its ability to provide a clear roadmap for achieving project/program goals. Strategy involves conducting market research, analyzing competitive landscapes, identifying customer needs, and developing long-term plans that align with business objectives. By having a well-defined strategy in place, we can ensure that our projects are focused on delivering value to stakeholders—while also contributing toward the organization's overall success.
Product managers usually create the strategy, but TPMs play a significant part in putting it into action.
Why is Strategic Management Important for TPMs?
Disclaimer: My experience has been only in the tech industry, and I am not sure if this is prevalent in other industries. I would love to know if you have experienced something similar.
by Dave Wakeman
I was scrolling ProjectManagement.com recently, looking for inspiration and ideas for this month’s piece when I saw one author pose a question about “business context” and another one post about “business acumen.”
These got my attention, because over the years, my entire collection of posts has been about reinforcing these two points:
So this month, I want to reinforce the importance of your business skills to be a better project manager by highlighting two key ideas.
1. The best project manager can’t fix the wrong project. Peter Drucker said something about the worst waste of timing being doing something that need not be done at all.
One of the key ways that you can use your business skills to improve your PM performance is by understanding what projects are really going to push your business toward its key strategic goals.
This speaks directly to context. You get there with your business acumen.
Why does this matter? First, a lot of projects end up taking place due to momentum. A project starts gaining steam, no one steps in to ask if it is “essential.” It just seems important. So, it gets done.
Second, a lot of projects are done because that’s the way similar projects have been handled in the past. So, a project is just done because it is consistent with “best practices” even if there have been no lessons learned to update the process.
These scenarios highlight the importance of context and business acumen for PMs, because being able to step in and understand if a project is essential and impactful can stop the wrong projects from taking place.
2. Context is key in any situation. The best project manager in the world is still operating in a situation filled with context, no matter what.
The idea of any project, business or PM operating in a vacuum is funny, because nothing occurs in a vacuum. Great PMs know that context matters in every situation, and that context is fluid.
Andy Jordan recently wrote about there being “multiple” contexts, and that is right to a point, but it can be confusing to people. A good PM’s frame of reference for “context” in their projects revolves around the answer to the question of, “What does success look like?”
Why does this matter? One, we need to isolate the signal from the noise. I agree with Andy that there are multiple contexts for any project decision. Where I want you to focus your attention is on recognizing which one is most important.
In the modern business environment, you are never going to be able to manage all the contexts, so the process of isolation and focus matter more than ever.
So, look for the thing that is going to help you achieve “success,” whatever that means in your situation.
Two, the proper context should help you justify your project’s execution. Above, we discussed business acumen and the “right project.” Here is where context helps that come true because the context can change—and likely will change.
So, it is your job to make sure you know what success looks like so that you can place the project in the proper context to ensure that the right projects move forward.
Remember, the best project manager in the world can’t save the wrong project—and that’s where the meeting of business acumen and business context come together.
What do you think? Am I off the mark?
Supercharging an Organization’s Performance to Achieve its Mission
IT Project Management,
Categories: Social Responsibility, Portfolio Management, Tools, Best Practices, Strategy, Mentoring, Metrics, Career Development, Stakeholder, Innovation, Change Management, Leadership, Lessons Learned, Program Management, Benefits Realization, Complexity, IT Project Management, Teams, Programs (PMO), Communication
By Peter Tarhanidis, Ph.D.
There is a dramatic increase in the strategies corporations implement to meet the needs of their stakeholders. Driving value from all parts of an organization and its functions may seem like repetitive exercises—and even feel more like a medieval gauntlet with only a few successful programs. HBR (2021) wrote that by 2027, about 88 million people will be working in project management—with economic activity reaching $20 trillion USD. Also noted: Only 35% of projects are successful, leaving immense waste of resources.
There are many reasons projects fail. HBR (2021) states of the 70% of failed projects, and after exhaustive root-cause analysis across all industries, one can identify common themes such as undervaluing project management skills and methods, and poor performance. Yet organizations that apply project management methods recognized their performance had a 2.5 more times chance to be successful, and organizations can waste 28 times less resources. As such, when applied, the implementation of PM methods works.
Yet in a world filled with a variety of project taxonomies, many organizational boards are now contemplating the need to implement environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. Forbes states the benefits of ESG and CSR initiatives include:
Therefore, to ensure success for ESG and CSR programs, an organization’s top leaders need to prioritize and align across all the organization’s businesses. Leaders can use the balanced scorecard to achieve this alignment, and can extend its use across the entire project portfolio.
This theory was developed by Kaplan and Norton, which state the balanced scorecard method converts the organization’s strategy into performance objectives, measures, targets and initiatives. Linking the concept of cause and effect, the balanced scorecard covers four perspectives:
Marr (N.B.) reported over 50% of companies have used this approach in the United States, the United Kingdom, Northern Europe and Japan. One clear benefit has been to align the organization’s structure to achieve its strategic goals.
In conclusion, applying project management methods and aligning an organization’s performance through the balanced scorecard can unlock ESG and CSR benefits that can supercharge a company’s efforts to achieve its mission.