Changing Project Direction

Changing Project Direction
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There is a definite need for a new project management direction across the Public Sector. I’m Adam Dare, and I’m working as part of a new start up with a fresh and modern approach to delivering value to its customers. Marjolo’s passion is to help people and to transform business for the better. They are a firm who provide excellence in actionable design and who work with their clients and partners to make a positive difference to their futures.

Recently, I’ve been involved in supporting a government department to help ensure the continued progression of a high priority project by reviewing it in terms of validating requirements and providing improvement recommendations.

We provided an outsiders view of which practices were working, those that were not and then offered suggestions on the way forward. Our participation and delivery was positively received, and for the purposes of continued growth, we would like to share some of our observations; particularly those that we feel are the most critical for achieving success in any project:

  • Establishing and executing a strategy
  • Defining the solution
  • Establishing requirements
  • Managing requirements
  • Delivering the solution (both business and technical)

I don’t propose to write ‘chapter and verse’ about the meanings of each of the above, but it is interesting from that outside view to see the impacts that are brought about when there has not been sufficient attention paid to the development of each point. Also, how important it is to ensure that they are adequately communicated to the team and understand the lack of direction that is created when they are not.

Which Way Now?

What tends to happen is that people will naturally do what they think is best and pull the project in different directions. Sometimes, this realisation comes too late to actually fix things, and by then, the project is in trouble. It goes without saying that the earlier that the issues can be spotted and resolved, the better for all.
It highlights the fact that time really taken to logically think through what a project is actually looking to achieve, and the direction required to deliver it is invaluable in the long run.
We have all seen and experienced projects which drive towards delivering a solution without the team really understanding what that solution actually looks like, or without even knowing the path to delivery; yet everyone somehow or another, seems to be building……’something.’

‘What, why, how, when and who’ are the questions that teams need to be asking. If the majority of your team are muttering these, and their voices are getting louder, then it’s a strong indication that you really need to establish and confirm the key points (and maybe more) as soon as possible. The longer such issues are left unresolved, the greater the risks.
There are a number of influencing factors that can hamper or accelerate delivery of this message such as experience, skills, communication style, culture and personalities. In my view, having effective people in leadership roles who have strong communication skills as well as clear logical minds, are completely invaluable.

Always Challenging

It is never a perfect world, but if we push for answers to ‘What, why, how, when and who’, we are more likely to be successful than not. Depending on the environment or industry, getting answers can be hard or easy. I would say that in the public sector it is not always simple as the structure and drivers may not always be clear, but in other sectors, their culture tends to lend itself to supporting such clarifications. For example, a number of large technology and internet commerce firms seem to be more proficient at asking and answering such questions. Is it more than just the need for a simple cultural shift to bring the public sector in line with these giants of industry?

In essence, we should strive to answer the questions so that we are able to deliver real value to our customers. Without it, we ultimately risk not understanding our direction and achieving something that we didn’t really have in mind in the first place.

Adam Dare

We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments box below, else, do please join us on LinkedIn and be a part of the conversation. If you have enjoyed this blog, do be sure to check out the rest of our musings, observations and experiences.

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