Project Description

Project success rates have a direct correlation with the strength of project management capabilities.

When project timelines are not achieved, budgets are exceeded, planned objectives are not fulfilled, and scarce organizational resources–that can never be recouped–are wasted. Further, according to the Project Management Institute, “Organizations that undervalue project management as a strategic competency for driving change report an average of 67 percent more of their projects failing outright.”

In order to capture project value as rapidly as possible, organizations must understand that there is a direct link between their business strategies and the effective execution of those strategies. Poor project execution can lead directly to financial loss and have potential negative capital market impacts.

In this point of view, we outline how achieving successful project outcomes goes far beyond employing the latest project management tools. The keys to project success include ensuring strong project management resources and capabilities are in place to drive those outcomes.

The Value of Project Management

With millions or even billions of dollars dependent upon the success (or failure) of a project, companies must employ ways to ensure successful outcomes. Strategic projects often are the drivers of change and innovation within organizations. Failure to meet project goals, schedules, and budgets can significantly impact an organization’s agility and profitability. Today’s constantly challenging environment only adds to the complexity of delivering successful projects.

Therefore, it is imperative that organizations deploy strong project management capabilities within their businesses whether it is via internal or external resources. The best performing companies approach project management as part of their ongoing operations to achieve strategic objectives.

Let’s explore the following key learnings from top performing organizations:

  • Use of a standardized methodology that can adjust to meet project objectives

  • High focus on talent management and staff empowerment
  • Ongoing executive engagement and support

Key Learning #1

Standardized Methodology

It is crucial to align projects with broader business strategies and position standardized project management as a key business driver for success. Top performing companies standardize their project lifecycle practices to drive organization-wide efficiencies. These efficiencies take away the need to “recreate the methodology wheel” each time a new project is undertaken. In turn, this allows the project team to focus on delivering the goals and objectives of the project. Reactive execution driven by outside influences instead of strategic goals fails to produce intended results.

Standard project management practices facilitate the ability of the project team to work together and complete deliverables in a timely manner. Based upon Parker Avery experience, organizations with mature project management practices tend to produce significantly better project delivery results than those who are less advanced.

Note that mature project management practices include:

  • Focus on project management processes
  • Advanced tools and techniques
  • Project management competencies
  • Specifically targeted career pathing

Key Learning #2

Talent management & Staff Empowerment

Global economic pressures persist, making it critical for businesses to accomplish more with fewer resources. As outlined above, standardized practices bring increased value to project management. When standardized practices are coupled with qualified and empowered staff, project value can be increased exponentially. Clear definition of roles and responsibilities for a project results in individual and team accountability. This in turn, enables consistent delivery of the intended project value.

Recruiting and investing in high performing project managers will promote organizational agility.  This type of investment significantly increases project success and brings business value more quickly.

Organizations are moving towards the establishment of project management offices (PMOs) with enterprise-wide accountability. PMOs whose focus is the enterprise are more inclined to drive the strategic aspects of project management, develop and monitor key metrics, and define core project management maturity. PMOs can easily align themselves with business objectives instead of becoming sidetracked by departmental agendas.

Key Learning #3

Ongoing Stakeholder Engagement & Support

Having active project sponsors is absolutely critical to a project’s success. Visibility to top management and active stakeholder support will encourage buy-in and enable the organization to maximize the project’s value to the business. Stakeholders who actively champion the strategic value of projects and regularly communicate the intended benefits to their teams help to establish the project as critical to support a business strategy. Teams under these executives will align themselves with the business strategy and support project efforts more quickly and with greater enthusiasm.

A project manager is not a stakeholder or sponsor. The project manager’s role is to ensure the stakeholder and sponsor are informed. However, the project manager should report regular status and bring visibility to any key risks or issues that need executive input.

In retail, there is an old saying, “To be successful, you need to have the right product, at the right time, at the right price.” For a project manager, a similar saying can be said. The project manager needs to bring the right information at the right time to ensure the executives have everything they need to make informed decisions. It is critical that organizations realize that just because a project manager is assigned to a project doesn’t mean that a project will be successful. There must be a direct channel of communication between the project manager and the stakeholders and sponsors. It is a collaborative effort as all three play an important role.

Final Word

Project management should be a key part of every business strategy and every initiative, regardless of the project size or scope. Ultimately, project management brings value by improving:

  • Strategic execution through repeatable, reliable standards and performance;
  • Integration within the organization through the elimination of “silos” and delivery of increased communication and collaboration; and
  • Individual and team competency by properly educating teams and applying knowledge.

Solid project management capabilities reduce waste and risk. Further, they dramatically increase the likelihood of delivering intended project benefits and return on investments.

About Parker Avery

The Parker Avery Group is a leading retail and consumer goods consulting firm that specializes in transforming organizations and optimizing operational execution through the development of competitive strategies, business process design, deep analytics expertise, change management leadership, and implementation of solutions that enable key capabilities.

For more details, contact:

Robert Kaufman
Chief Executive Officer

David Birdsall
Senior Manager


Sign up to receive retail and consumer goods insights and strategic advice from The Parker Avery Group.