Tackling Mission-Critical Project Execution Challenges

In today’s business landscape, the ability to manage diverse and hybrid teams has become a critical differentiator for organizations looking to gain a competitive edge. The pandemic forced companies to rethink their approach to project management, leading to new and innovative solutions for managing teams remotely. And these companies are thriving. By expertly organizing operationally diverse and hybrid teams, these organizations have beaten the competition and are well-positioned for even greater success in the future. As the importance of implementing critical operational changes continues to grow, these companies have a distinct advantage. They have developed the skills and expertise needed to adapt quickly and effectively to changing circumstances, ensuring that they stay ahead of the curve. With the right approach to project management leadership, organizations can become highly agile and adaptive, able to thrive in even the most challenging of circumstances. In short, by embracing the power of diversity and hybrid teams, organizations can achieve success, drive innovation, and remain highly competitive in today’s fast-paced world.

Trend Towards Project-Based Change

Look beneath the surface of any large organization looking to improve financial and operational efficiencies and you’ll find a flurry of critical projects. Finance and accounting, treasury and order-to-cash, risk management and compliance, manufacturing and logistics, sales and marketing, and information technology are among the many functional areas covered by these initiatives. The tendency toward project-based change has grown so common that it has its own name: “the project economy.”

Digitalization Accelerates

In recent years, spurred by the pandemic, several organizations expedited their digitalization of certain functions, reaching three to four years’ worth of technology development in a few months.

These initiatives were also tested by the “Great Resignation,” which saw personnel leave project teams for perceived greener pastures. And, more recently, these initiatives have been buffeted by the effects of the recession. As a result, project objectives might shift midstream, and project funds can disappear overnight.

Motivating Thinly Stretched Teams

A unanimous complaint by executives of large organizations is the tremendous difficulties motivating thinly stretched and dispersed teams juggling daily responsibilities across a variety of project objectives. It’s no surprise that one-third of CEOs believe fulfilling their projects’ major goals has become more challenging since 2020. (Source: RGP Research Report – Overcoming the Execution Challenges of Mission-Critical Projects)

The Link Between Successful Project Execution and Corporate Success

Can successful project execution result in higher corporate success? Yes. Project Execution Leaders outperformed Project Execution Laggards in terms of capital market success between 2017 and today. Over a five-year period, the average market value of leaders increased by 63%. In sharp contrast, the Project Execution Laggards’ market cap fell by an average of 24% throughout that time period. (Source: RGP Research Report – Overcoming the Execution Challenges of Mission-Critical Projects)

Here are five key findings of that research:

  1. The rise of hybrid teams has brought new challenges for project managers, making the execution of critical projects more difficult than ever. With the widespread adoption of “work from home” policies, managers must find innovative ways to keep remote team members excited and engaged. The key to success lies in candid communication about the unique challenges of managing a hybrid team and making a concerted effort to create meaningful connections with remote team members. Building strong connections beyond the business relationship is essential, as without regular group and one-to-one engagement, team productivity can suffer. To ensure the success of hybrid teams, project management leaders must review their organization structures to determine if hierarchies and functional silos are undermining team cohesion. Additionally, evaluating new digital collaboration tools that transcend or complement existing platforms can provide a fresh perspective. White-boarding and design thinking exercises can also be valuable when hybrid teams meet in person. By embracing these strategies, project managers can overcome the challenges of managing hybrid teams and help their organizations achieve greater success.
  2. As organizationally diverse project teams become increasingly prevalent, it’s more important than ever to adopt a “one badge” approach to management. This means treating all team members as equals, regardless of which organization they hail from. To achieve success, a project leader with strong emotional intelligence (EQ) can be critical in helping to create a unified team identity. Conflict resolution procedures should be established from the outset to prevent power struggles and maintain a cohesive team dynamic. As projects evolve, team composition should be reconfigured quickly to ensure that the team has the necessary skills to meet new goals. Ensuring that staffing and consulting partners have insight into the demand for project work and resources can be invaluable, allowing them to offer up project leaders and team members who are best suited to upcoming strategic projects. By elevating the value of third-party partners, organizations can ensure that their organizationally diverse teams are managed successfully, promoting smooth project execution and ensuring that strategic goals are achieved.
  3. Excellent project management is a key differentiator in today’s business landscape. Providing project managers with top-quality tools and empowering them with the authority to lead teams and execute projects is essential for achieving success. To achieve this success, it’s critical to choose project leaders with strong emotional intelligence (EQ) to motivate team members and resolve conflicts. Soft skills are highly important to project success and can make the difference between a successful project and a failed one. Empowering project leads to form the project team and take ownership of project execution can ensure that projects are delivered on time and within budget. Having experience with similar projects can be a valuable asset, enabling project leaders to anticipate and mitigate project risk factors, and set the team up for success. Finally, the project leader must have strong executive involvement to influence and create alignment among stakeholders, driving project success. By following these recommendations, organizations can help their project managers excel, delivering successful projects that set them apart from the competition.
  4. Great project management is about more than just keeping projects on track – it’s about seizing opportunities and turning challenges into positives. Effective collaboration tools and strong project leadership are what distinguish Project Execution Leaders from Laggards in today’s business landscape. Investing in top-quality collaboration tools can help reduce the administrative burden on project teams and ensure that knowledge is retained as team members roll on and off. By selecting lean, lightweight project management tools that offer almost real-time transparency on project performance, project managers can quickly plan and assign work while also gauging quality. Leveraging easy-to-use collaboration tools that don’t require extensive training can also help teams work more efficiently. Finally, supplementing project tools with digital workforce enablement – such as strong connectivity and efficient business process tools – can help make project tasks easier to accomplish. By following these recommendations, organizations can empower their project managers to achieve success even when faced with complex and challenging projects.
  5. In today’s fast-paced business environment, having the right team members can make all the difference in project success. While independent contractors may be prevalent in some online marketplaces, a higher number of project team members from consulting and staffing organizations can often correlate with greater success. These organizations tend to invest more time and effort in evaluating talent, ensuring that team members are a good fit with the company’s culture and project goals. To ensure success, it’s critical to ensure that consulting or staffing firms follow best practices for onboarding talent quickly, so team members can hit the ground running. It’s also essential that team members understand the big picture of the project and how their role fits into the overall strategy. To maintain alignment with project goals, consulting or staffing firms should be quick to swap out team members as the project evolves. While project sponsors may be hesitant to remove internal staff or independent contractors, it’s crucial to keep the team skills aligned with project goals. By following these recommendations, organizations can ensure that their project teams are staffed with high-quality talent, poised to deliver successful projects that drive business success.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) identifies “Power Skills” as imagination, invention, active listening, communication, problem-solving, and emotional intelligence.

Our project managers have consistently demonstrated the ability to:

– Think creatively and strategically on how the work can be accomplished
– Operate with leadership and motivation of others
– Prepare organizations for change
– Avoid risk as conditions on the ground change and pivot

In the world of business, executing critical projects is essential for achieving success. By sharing our insights and recommendations, we aim to help organizations overcome the unique challenges of today’s business landscape and deliver successful projects that drive business success. With the right tools, techniques, and leadership, organizations can become Project Execution Leaders and thrive in the ever-changing world of business.