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The 5 Pillars of Powerful Project Management

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By Vijay Khatnani, Managing Partner, J2 Solutions

Recently, J2 was involved with a project for a large media company that wanted to implement PeopleSoft’s Human Capital Management (HCM) software. Along the way, there were the typical nuances, intricacies and political sensitivities that had to be navigated. The scope of the project continued to change, teams shifted and there were some heated conversations. Costs, timelines and expectations had to be managed or the project would have veered off course more than once.

This project, as many do, ended up being a lot more complex than expected: what was supposed to be a simple three-month engagement ended up needing 18 months to complete.

Why am I telling you this? Because it reminds me of the multitude of projects I’ve managed throughout my career that simply demanded more than a one-size-fits-all approach.

Though each project I face brings with it a different set of unique circumstances, certain key elements remain constant across all. I’ve seen first hand what it takes to achieve a successful outcome—and I attribute those successes to what I like to call “The Five Pillars of Powerful Project Management.”

The 5 Pillars of Powerful Project Management

Vision: Without clarity of vision and a detailed understanding of the goals and the process involved, the trajectory of any project will be thrown off right at the starting gate. More than just establishing the vision at the beginning, this means assembling the right team that can execute on that vision, in spite of any and all of the complexities that may arise.

Motivation: Absolutely essential to any project’s success is ensuring that everyone involved remains enthusiastic and inspired in the face of often tedious tasks, discouraging setbacks and unexpected developments—particularly on long-term projects. Don’t just have team meetings, plan more creative venues for team building, such as outings (paintball, anyone?) and after-hours fun, to name a few. Also, when you’re integrating different teams from around the globe, ensuring one cohesive unit often comes down to regular check-ins to keep everyone engaged. Use video conferencing whenever possible so that your team can connect in the most powerful face-to-face way. All this will keep the team motivated and connected, which is very important.

Driving consensus: You can’t keep a team motivated and aligned to one vision without being able to drive consensus. Make sure that every individual and every team involved is working towards one common goal. Here’s where it’s critical to keep personal agendas in check when there are disagreements so that everyone stays on the same page. You have to keep the end result in mind—and that is one common goal.

Resolving conflict: When conflict arises, which is almost a certainty in project management, a powerful project manager who is able to resolve issues across teams in a diplomatic way is not only essential, but I believe, critical. A big part of this is making sure that there is trust in the group and egos are kept out. It is a team effort.

Flexibility: I have yet to manage a project that went exactly as planned; players change, requirements evolve, timelines extend. You’ve got to be flexible and plan for trial-and-error. This is the lifeblood of the project’s successful outcome.

In the end, the PeopleSoft implementation project was a big hit. The teams came together to execute on one common goal and, as a result, the firm ended up with a flawless HCM system that has brought them huge ROI from the beginning.

Have you ever run into any set backs while managing a project? How did you handle them?