Just How Important are Projects in Today’s Organizations?

POSTED: Feb. 01, 2017

Program ParticipantsHere’s a quick quiz:

  • Are projects in your organization getting done on time?
  • Within budget?
  • Are the customers of these projects satisfied?
  • Are your employees enthusiastic about their involvement in projects?
  • Do you even know how many projects are currently underway within your organization?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then read on.

In any organization, work can be broken down into two categories – operations and projects. Operations are the organization’s on-going, repetitive activities, such as manufacturing, staffing or accounting. These activities are primarily focused on keeping things running. On the other hand, project work is temporary in nature, having defined start and end dates; project work produces unique outputs. Though both categories of work have some things in common (people, resources, goals), they require different sets of skills and tools.

Most of us spend a career learning the tools necessary to manage and perform our routine day-to-day operational activities, but sadly these tools turn out to be woefully inadequate when it comes to our project work. Project work requires a different set of skills and tools. Today’s organizations are discovering that more and more of the work required to stay competitive in their markets is project work and are working to give their employees the language and tools needed to successfully manage projects.

Generally, projects fall into the following three classifications:

  1. Strategic
  2. Operations
  3. Sales

Strategic projects are initiated to maintain or enhance an organization’s competitive position, change the basis of competition or create new markets/products/service lines. Think of strategic projects as the way an organization adds “new muscles.” Operations projects are initiated to help the organization improve what it’s doing with existing processes, products/services or infrastructure (IT, Lean and Six Sigma projects are examples). These projects are primarily focused on “keeping the lights on.” Sales projects are initiated based on a specific order received from a customer to produce a unique product or service. All three of these types of projects are vitally important to an organization.

Organizations worldwide are embracing the knowledge, skills and tools associated with project management in order to ensure that the above types of projects are completed on time, on budget and to requirements. Project management is often viewed as a rigorous, paperwork laden effort that is only applicable to large projects, but the reality is that it is a process that can easily be scalable to any size project. Learning some basic project management skills and tools will help everyone working in an organization create momentum and support for projects, and enhance the chance of project success.

Conducted since 2006, the Project Management Institute’s Pulse of the Profession® is an annual global survey of project management practices across organizations. PMI’s 2016 Pulse study concluded that the dynamic, rapidly changing, complex business environment continues to emphasize the need for excellence in project management. The study also found that projects were 2.5 times more successful in organizations where proven project management practices are used. These organizations also wasted 13 times less money on their projects. Clearly, ensuring that your employees have the necessary skills and tools for managing their “project work” will produce significant value to your organization.