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The Strategic Role of Project Management

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I have a bit of resentment for organizations that view the role of a project manager as that of a 'traffic cop.' That is, as someone who simply ensures that requirements are documented, meetings facilitated, conference call numbers set up and everyone has their assignments in on time.

To be sure, these are all important facets of a project. But I believe that any qualified project manager should be performing these actions as a reflex. In other words, this is not the primary role of a project manager but simply the basic administrative tasks of a much bigger role.

That's why I was pleased to see the results of PMI's 2012 Pulse of the Profession report. Among many interesting findings, this observation hit home:

Research conducted with senior project management leaders on PMI's Global Executive Council found that the most important skill for managing today's complex projects and programs is the ability to align the team to the vision of the project and design the project's organizational structure to align people and project objectives.

This is the key to the future growth and a value-add of project management in today's organizations. If your company is not positioning project managers to help define, communicate and drive the strategic vision and goals of the projects project managers are responsible for, it is under-utilizing their resources.

Project managers should not view themselves as simply the administrative support team for a group of subject matter experts and executives. They should take ownership of the overall success of the projects they run. This goes well beyond meeting the key performance indicators that have been set out for them. It also includes recognizing and providing the strategic value of the project to the organization.

Beyond understanding the fundamentals of project management as laid out by A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), you should also take the initiative to know your business and the industry in which you work. This way, you not only recognize the obvious success indicators but also the more subtle success factors -- and risks -- of the decisions you and your team make.

Take heart, Project Managers. It appears our true value-add is finally starting to be recognized. But also take heed: You must up your game to ensure you remain valuable in today's project management field.

How can project managers help align projects to organizational goals?

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4 Comments

I to am with Geoff. Project managment is a core activity. Without a fully commited approach to project management, additional costs will be incurred to the business. In an environment where cutting costs are everything, project managers should and will be appreciated for their efforts.
Great stuff Geoff

Hi @PM Hut!

You can locate this finding on page 3 of the report, under the bullet point that reads:

"Despite tight economic conditions, organizations have been and will continue to increase their focus on benefits realization (in addition to cost and time) as a project and program success metric."

We hope this helps!
The Voices Team

I have just checked the "Pulse of the Profession" and I couldn't read anywhere that the most important skill to managing projects is to align the team with the project's vision.

The team was subtly mentioned in the talent management part here: "Organizations will renew their focus on talent development as they look to grow and gain competitive advantage in new markets."

Am I missing something?

I agree fully with the comments of Geoff. The organizations should treat Project Management as a core activity and the Project Managemnet Office as one of the key entities of the bank. The organization also need to provide adequate authorities to the PMs and the PMO for the smooth execution of the projects.

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