Project Management

Parker Avery Point of View

The Keys to Project Success

In today's complex global, omnichannel environment, the pressure to remain profitable and retain competitive advantage is even more pressing than ever before.

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.

Since 2008, the percentage of projects where project teams have met their original goals and delivered intended results has decreased ten (10) percentage points. Project success rates have decreased due to increasing economic pressures and regulatory requirements as well as lack of focus on project management talent. 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.

Project Success Rates

The Value of Project Management

With billions of dollars dependent upon the success (or failure) of a project, it makes sense that retailers would look for ways to ensure project success. 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 challenging operating environment only adds to the complexity of delivering successful projects.

Therefore, it is imperative that organizations deploy Project Management capabilities within their businesses whether it is via internal or external resources. Studies have shown that the best performing retailers approach Project Management as part of their ongoing operations to achieve strategic objectives.

Let's explore the following Key Learnings from top performers:

1. Utilization of a standardized methodology that can contract and expand to meet project objectives and business needs;
2. High focus on talent management and staff empowerment; and
3. 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. The best performing retailers 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. This, in turn, 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

These successful retailers also possess the ability to measure benefits and implement governance processes for their projects.

Project methodology that can be contracted or expanded to fit the size and scope of the project is critical. For example, every project includes project planning, but planning tasks may be extensive and detailed for a large, global, capital project versus the tasks required for a smaller departmental initiative. The key takeaway is that no steps in the project life cycle should be bypassed – they should be simply flexed to support the scope of the project and the organization's culture.

In addition, Project Management should not be thought of as simply an IT function. All global and departmental initiatives can be improved by applying standard Project Management methodologies.

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 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 work efforts more quickly and with greater enthusiasm.

A Project Manager is not a stakeholder or sponsor. The Project Manager is simply another component to accomplishing the project's goal. 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. The role of the business sponsor and stakeholder are equally as important. It is a collaborative effort.

A committed leader can provide the resources to keep project deliverables on target, including the assignment of the best organizational assets for financial support and accountability for delivering results.

Final Word

Project Management should be a key part of every business strategy and every initiative, regardless of the project size or scope. Project Management reduces waste and risk, and dramatically increases the likelihood of delivering intended project benefits and ROI. 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.

If you’d like to learn more about our vision or understand how you might take advantage of this strategy, contact us at or call 770.882.2205.

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