Building a project management capability

Ayalon highwayIf you stick a mile of motorway in the centre of a city it might be great for the short while your on it, but getting on and off will be a nightmare. The motorway’s job is to move traffic fast, but it can’t do it if the surrounding infrastructure doesn’t support getting people on and off the motorway efficiently.

Project management is the same. There’s no point having a bunch of highly trained and skilled project managers unless everyone around them understands what they are trying to do, how they are going about doing it, and what part they have to play in making sure projects get delivered properly.

That means your project sponsors, stakeholders, contributors and project team members all need to understand enough about project management to be able to contribute their bit in the project successfully. That doesn’t mean everyone becomes a project manager, but that everyone involved in projects needs to have project management awareness and understanding.



One more important factor is that it must be relevant project management awareness, Relevant to their role and to your organisation, to the way you run projects. That rules out sending people on most of the generic Prince2/APM/PMI courses because they are mostly about teaching project managers the technical skills to do the job or getting a badge to say they’ve been trained.

No, what you need is training about involvement in projects. Yes – it needs to cover the basics of the lifecycle, governance, reporting etc. but only to set the context and with emphasis on where the audience will be getting involved. Ideally this should be tailored to the specifics of your organisation but there are a few courses that make a good attempt at covering this.


Talent Expertise Genius Skills Professional ConceptBuilding a capability

What we have talked about so far is providing the wider project community with awareness and, for some, skills training and the relevant aspects of managing projects. For project managers training works (at least to some degree) because they are always running projects and therefore get to practice what they have learned. For others, they may not have that constant or frequent project interaction. But you don’t want them to forget what they have learned or to struggle to use it when they do have project involvement. You want to develop an ongoing capability to excel at delivering projects.

To do that you need to engage the project management community you have started to build. Have those that have been involved in projects write and speak about their experiences. Promote the good and learn from the bad so they don’t get repeated. Create an internal online forum, backed up by regular online and physical events to grow and encourage the community.


Holistic approach

This is the  holistic approach to building a project management capability. It’s an approach where project management knowledge and awareness becomes a highly desirable and must have skill to progress and be successful in the organisation. It fosters the sharing of good practice and the eradication of repeated mistakes. Organisations that follow this approach demonstrate excellence in execution of their projects and are amongst the most successful in the world.

Do you aspire to join them? It starts by having a clear set of objectives for improving your project delivery, understanding the complete audience and then selecting and delivering targeted training. Watch my three part video series and start your journey to excellence in execution.

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