With the rise of organizationally diverse teams, navigating the world of project management can be tricky. As organizations continue to embrace the trend of increased external talent on project teams, leaders are faced with the challenge of managing these teams efficiently while reducing overall costs. In our experience, the benefits of leveraging experienced external talent leads to an increase in innovative solutions and is an effective sidestep to talent shortages.
We often hear from clients across a variety of industries when their best employees are occupied with multiple projects or they lack a particular skill set internally. No single organization possesses all the necessary expertise on staff, so they must leverage all the experienced talent available to them to best match the needs of the project, resulting in highly diverse project teams. These teams can consist of a consultant, their own project manager, third-party personnel, and a business process outsourcer, for example.
The rise of multi-company projects is also contributing to the popularity of multi-disciplinary diverse teams. According to a Mercer report, roughly one-quarter of enterprises are already members of, or are in the process of joining, a consortium that pools talent across organizations. These consortiums necessitate cross-industry and cross-function collaboration.
Pfizer Inc.’s work on the COVID-19 vaccine was widely recognized as a successful example of a multi-company, diverse team effort. Pfizer and BioNTech worked together to develop the vaccine, and they successfully persuaded a smaller Austrian firm to temporarily shelve other initiatives in order to speedily supply a key ingredient. CEO Albert Bourla benefited Pfizer by removing roadblocks like these from projects. But project managers are frequently called upon to act with organizational diplomacy such as this.
Recommendations for Project Management Leaders
To effectively manage organizationally diverse teams, one key recommendation is to have a clear project leader. This person should possess strong communication and leadership skills and be able to keep everyone on track, while also being able to navigate any conflicts that may arise within the team. Having a strong project leader can make all the difference in the success of a project.
Here are five tips for project leaders to successfully manage diverse teams:
- Maintain as much parity as possible across team members regardless of the organizations they call “home.”
- Use emotional intelligence qualities to assist the group in developing a unified, “one badge,” identity.
- Establish mechanisms for conflict resolution right away that will help you prevent power struggles later on.
- Act quickly to reorganize the composition of your team so that it possesses the capabilities necessary to achieve new goals as projects develop and pivot.
- Be certain that the partners used for consulting have some understanding of the overall need for project work and resources. They will be able to provide prospective strategic project leaders and team members who are experienced and qualified candidates for such projects, increasing the value of these partnerships.
Putting a stop to the proliferation of projects through strengthening the PMO with strategic project portfolio management
In today’s project-based economy, several vital projects are underway at the same time. We’ve heard from executives who have teams working on 15+ different projects at the same time. They have explained that their teams carry out double work, meaning their everyday work and then their project work.
Conventionally, what is asked by the project management office (PMO) in this situation is, “Do these projects have the necessary resources for success?” The more effective and strategic question that should be posed is “Which of all of these projects will actually create value, either from the perspective of the shareholders, the customers, or the operations?”
Since 1998, Sirius Solutions has helped organizations discover the answer to this question by working closely with senior executives leading significant projects. By helping them avoid the risk of giving the go-ahead to every initiative that looks like it might have some potential, they were able to eliminate unnecessary and wasteful costs.
Collaboratively they followed this simple yet effective model –
- Assess the viability of economic performance improvement opportunities before project investment.
- Avoid the risk of unnecessary and wasteful costs that don’t deliver value.
- Identify opportunities and refocus on project initiatives which deliver impactful results.
A higher return on investment through “agile” finance
The waterfall methodology, in which individual aspects of a project are completed in the order in which they were planned, is substantially dissimilar to the agile project management strategies that are used in their place. While using waterfall approaches, it’s possible that the project won’t give any value to the business until after all of the processes have been finished. On the other hand, agile projects are broken down into a number of smaller initiatives, each of which offers immediate impact to the business. Project investment should be based on the delivery of business impact during the duration of the project. In doing so, projects that are delivered using agile methodologies may only be eligible for additional investment once they have demonstrated interim results. And if they do not, it is simpler to close them down, and you won’t lose any of the money you invested in the beginning.
Better retention of current employees
Organizations frequently operate under the false assumption that they are able to manage numerous projects simultaneously with dozens of project teams. They can underestimate the fact that several projects will call for the participation of the same staff. People work so hard on so many projects that they leave because of being overworked and stressed. It is possible to reduce the amount of work that needs to be done and enhance employee retention by limiting projects to those that generate value and are effective.
The constantly shifting terrain of project management has made way for the emergence of new opportunities for organizations to leverage the strengths offered by post-pandemic approach to project delivery and diverse teams, moving away from conventional hierarchical structures. By identifying the highest-value projects, diverse teams are empowered to concentrate on delivering value through manageable work streams. Implementing effective project control mechanisms ensures that companies can minimize the risk of project failure and keep their teams engaged and energized.