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Business Management

Ken Scott (Europe) - How European Organisations can Leverage Best Practices

During my business career, projects have become an increasingly important part of business life.  Yet even though the delivery of projects lies at the heart of most business strategies, countless projects still "fail".  The nature of modern business itself is part of the problem.  Projects are planned logically with clear actions, responsibilities and deadlines, but businesses operate in fast moving global markets where change can be rapid, and supply and service management chains tend to be fragmented across organisations and geographic borders.  As a result, retaining control can be somewhat akin to wrestling a particularly slippery eel!  But as business leaders, there are steps we can take to ensure our organisations manage projects more successfully. 

The key is to use Best Practices*.  There is no need to reinvent the wheel; best practice methodologies like PRINCE2® and ITIL® are based upon a distillation of years of accumulated expertise from a multitude of organisations.  Why ignore them only to repeat the mistakes others have already made?  But equally it is essential to make sure you are not using the Best Practice "in name only"; it needs to be embedded properly in order to maximise the potential benefit, and thus avoiding the three main stumbling blocks: 


  • 1. Lack of a "standard" organisational methodology. Teams working across different departments or locations will work more effectively if they are following the same methodology, but many organisations have yet to harmonise the Best Practices they follow. The same applies to different companies working together on joint projects
  • 2. Assuming proficiency in a particular best practice if your project managers hold the relevant accreditations. Training a handful of people in a standard methodology does not deliver organisational change. It is just as important to understand how that methodology is tailored to work within the context of your organisation's business structure, language, processes and culture
  • 3. Considering project management and Best Practices as a functional silo. The pervasive nature of projects in organisational life means that nearly all employees need to understand how to work on projects - but most training is targeted at project managers.
  •  

Typically cost has been a barrier to embedding Best Practices, as traditional classroom training still accounts for the majority of Best Practice training.  However, demographic, cultural and technological change is making e-learning, blended learning, social learning and mobile learning richer, more viable and cost effective options, particularly in developing basic levels of understanding across wide audiences.  At ILX, we have found that an increasing number of multinationals are training thousands of employees across the globe in a common Best Practice methodology.  And where multinationals and governments lead, other organisations follow. 

That is why PRINCE2® has become a de facto international standard.  It has gone from a UK government initiative to being used heavily among multinationals, governments and businesses in the UK and Nordic countries, Australia and New Zealand, some parts of Africa, Asia, the Americas and the Gulf states.  Ultimately, adoption has accelerated across such a diverse spectrum of countries and cultures because all organisations want to work more effectively in today's globalised marketplace.  But equally, they find shared best practices and language help them work more efficiently with their partners, customers and suppliers within and across geographic borders.  As such, Best Practice is a business issue - not just a project management issue - and every business leader needs to make sure their organisation shares the same Best Practices as its customers, or you may find that business migrates elsewhere.

Footnote:

* "For the purposes of this blog, Best Practice refers to industry-standard methodologies for project and programme management, developed by the Office of Government Commerce."

Ken Scott is Chief Executive Officer of the ILX Group plc.  Ken won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year London & South region 2009 award. For more information on ILX, visit their website.

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