Every project is unique, but all successful projects have at least one constant component: Continuity in leadership. How does a project management professional achieve that? There are elements that make up all successful leadership structures, whether that person is an in-house manager or providing project management consulting services.
Here they are.
Clear Authority to Act as Needed
If you have ever seen a PM that is fearful of making big decisions because of muddled executive support, you know how important this component is. A successful project manager has the leeway to make decisions as they see fit, to experiment and to modify elements of a project without fear of second guessing from other management figures.
Executive and Upper Management Buy-In
The way that the first component is possible is provided by support form executive and upper management. A management team that is deeply split in terms of project support always ends up with a PM that is unsure how to proceed. Additionally, a PM that acts without support from both executive and upper management figures inevitably ends up testing their patience and causing conflict.
Adequate Staffing and Resources
A third requirements is that the project has the resources it needs to be managed to success. That means it has the right number of employees and they are the best employees for that job. It also means that those employees have the tools and resources they need to supply.
A project team that is perpetually understaffed or underfunded leads to mistakes, cut corners and significant quality issues. In fact, in many cases, it is better to not do a project than to pursue one with inadequate staff or resources.
In addition to possessing the authority to make decisions, successful projects also include the PM in any major decisions. This incudes financial decisions, but also personnel, project direction, technical and scheduling decisions.
Another key element is that the PM serves as the Point of Contact for all external communications. That includes training, budgeting, expenditures, personnel and scheduling decisions. If external communications and decisions are made by multiple parties, project management becomes much more difficult.
Scope Warrants a Project Management Structure
A major key to successful projects is that the scope of the project matches the need for a formal project management structure. Not every project rises to this level. Projects that do not and still have a rigid management structure can become bogged down in management red tape. Projects that need this type of formal management and lack it, become chaotic.
A project management professional is only as successful as the structure behind them. If a project lacks in these key areas, it still might be successful, but getting there will be much more difficult.