Project management plays a pivotal role in helping organizations meet their business objectives. Without it, companies would have difficulty planning actionable strategies and implementing solutions to challenges as they arise. After all, it’s the role of the project manager to predict dangers, assign and manage resources across departments, and come up with calculated action plans that help the company achieve future growth. For anyone who’s ever wondered why organizations need project management, consider the following: Without it, nothing would ever get accomplished.
For project managers, however, things aren’t so straightforward. Since most of them spend the bulk of their time problem solving and fixing unexpected issues, they tend to forget what project management truly about—pushing the company forward. While solving problems is an equally important role, it’s important to remember that projects don’t exist to solve problems; they exist to help companies meet various objectives. And it’s the project manager’s job to create the blueprint that enables the company to meet those objectives.
The Role of the Project Manager is to Drive Change
There are many reasons why an organization takes on a project. Sometimes it’s to help the company improve their bottom line, and in other cases, it’s about meeting a specific change in policy or legislation. A good example of a project motivated by necessity would be the recent GDPR projects, which sent international companies scrambling to be compliant with new EU data and privacy laws.
Regardless of the reason organizations build projects, the motivation is almost always the same – survival. Companies must change to survive; thus, they create projects to put this change in motion. It’s the project manager’s job to see these changes through while ensuring that the company’s campaigns stay on their intended path.
Ushering in positive change is an important part of the project manager’s responsibilities. Project managers can achieve this through extensive research and planning, which they use to inform their decisions as they submit change requests.
A change request is a documentation highlighting important changes the company should make to guarantee their future success. Before proposing change requests, the project manager must ask themselves the following questions:
- Does this change help the organization meet their business objectives?
- Can I defend my reasons for proposing a change request?
For example, say you want to propose a change request that will postpone the completion of your project by two months. As you can imagine, the stakeholders aren’t going to be too thrilled about pushing back deadlines without a good reason. However, if you can demonstrate that the project will perform better as a result, there’s a greater likelihood that your request will be approved.
The point of this example is to illustrate how important it is for project managers to focus on the result. Ideally, companies want to avoid setbacks as much as possible. However, there are times when a company must experience a temporary setback to help them improve in the long run. And it’s the project manager’s job to bring attention to these issues.
Creating an Actionable Solution that Achieves Positive Outcomes
In project management, there’s a difference between the terms “output” and “outcome.”
- Project outputs are the results of a project.
- Project outcomes are what the organization can achieve with the output.
A common mistake that project managers often make is focusing too much on output. They often worry so much about all the technical details, like deadlines and budget requirements, that they completely overlook the outcome. However, if the outcome isn’t met, then the project isn’t successful.
For example, say you have a project where your goal is to design a new type of cell phone, which will then be sold in stores and mall kiosks across the country. The cell phone itself is your output, whereas the outcome of the project is to use phone sales to maintain (or grow) your company’s market share. Without this outcome, the phones produced are worthless.
Projects exist to help the organization, not the other way around. This is why it’s always important for project managers to focus on the outcome of their campaigns. While problem solving and managing resources are equally important, project management should be approached with one goal in mind – improving the company’s bottom line.