What is the key to success in project management?

A panel of experts discuss how to succeed in project management

debatemsAndré Pereira da Silva
Senior Product Marketing Manager, Microsoft

According to the latest Forrester report on the total economic impact of PPM, businesses see on average a return of 301 per cent from this investment, with a payback period of 6.7 months. These benefits must be clear to those who work in the organisation. The adoption of a better approach to PM will bring success to the business, but will also allow for a greater ability to evaluate and reward those who contribute the most for that success.he key to success lies in the adoption of the necessary set of processes as well as having the right technology in place. Microsoft certified partners in project and portfolio management help ensure just that. They make it their daily mission to help organisations review their existing processes, and work with them from an initial set of requirements and clearly defined goals to achieve a better overall approach to project management.

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debateadeptColin Balchin
Director, Adept Knowledge Management Ltd

Questions about the key to success in project management are legion. Is there a magic bullet in project management? Is experience more important than training or intellect? What contributes most to success – methodologies or an experienced team? How can you guarantee project success?

Different PM skills are needed. First, communication is a core skill to transfer information in clear formats. Second, teams do the project work; the PM needs to build a motivated team able to work in their absence.

Third, the PM should know when to listen to, or silence, the team, or when to involve them in dialogue. Fourth, the PM needs to avoid endless debates on domain knowledge and be the preferred domain expert. Fifth, processes and people must never be overwhelmed. Changes must be handled in an organised, disciplined and controlled manner.

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debate apmSara Drake
Chief executive, Association for Project Management

In our report, Conditions for Project Success, APM research (apm.org.uk/research) has identified key factors for project success, drawing on 40 years’ experience as the professional body of project professionals.

Projects need clear leadership, responsibilities and communication. Sponsors play an active role and are ultimately accountable. The project is well-planned and properly funded. Progress is carefully monitored, schedules realistic and budgets tightly controlled.

Teams apply PM techniques to ensure flexibility and robustness. They monitor standards to ensure best practice in delivery. Stakeholders are informed and involved. End users help design and deliver the project. Suppliers are co-ordinated and are aware of project needs, schedules and standards.

The project operates in a friendly, supportive environment. Everyone is committed to success, inspiring commitment in others.


debate pmiMark A Langley
President and CEO, PMI

Projects can only be as successful as the people and Project Management Offices (PMOs) running them. Start with these actions:

Look beyond technical skills. Effective project and programme management relies on blending technical skills with leadership and business qualities. Successful organisations empower well-rounded professionals to oversee long-range strategic objectives, and can see 40 per cent more projects meet goals and original business intent.

Recognise the strategic role of an enterprise-wide project management office (EPMO). PMOs are essential to overseeing strategic initiatives. Organisations that align their EPMO to strategy report 27 per cent more projects completed successfully and 42 per cent fewer projects with scope creep.

Drive success with executive sponsors. Executive sponsors are uniquely positioned to overcome barriers, secure funding, champion strategies and foster collaboration. When more than 80 per cent of projects have an engaged executive sponsor, 65 per cent more succeed.