Why People are Critical to the Success of any Project

By September 28, 2019 October 3rd, 2019 Change Management, Communication, Leadership, Project Management

Managing a project can be like walking a tightrope. It is always a balancing act but when done right, it will ensure the success of any project.

In our experience:

  • Project Management requires a blend of personal style, unique skills and experience.
  • Project Management isn’t just about how much study you have done or how many courses you have completed.
  • Project Management is about understanding people and how to work effectively with all your stakeholders to achieve the desired outcome.

Core Skills

The following 3 core capabilities are extremely powerful and will underpin any successful project.

1.     Leadership and Ownership

The first skill is leadership. A true leader knows they need to surround themselves with the very best people and to effectively engage the senior leadership team of the organisation.  Your team will be looking to you to provide the framework and environment that will give them a sense of confidence that the project is well run and will be a success.

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your team members and ensuring they are in the right roles is critical.  You may also benefit by having access to an experienced and unbiased mentor. Someone who has done what you are about to do many times before and who will be your sounding board throughout the project.

Your mentor may be someone in your own company or an external consultant who you can call on to guide you through the difficult decisions as and when required.  Ownership is about taking full responsibility for the effective planning of resources, budgets and tasks throughout the various stages of the project.

It requires courage, determination and commitment to see any project through to the end – no excuses, no failure should be the focus.

2.     Communication and Change Management

The next skill is to be a highly effective communicator with a strong appreciation for the importance of change management. Managing the expectations of your senior leadership team and balancing this with the goals for your project team is as imperative as controlling your scope and budget.

Successful projects require strong emphasis on supporting the staff through the transition process.  It is the responsibility of the Project Manager to take your team on this journey of change.

3.     Knowledge and Experience

The essence of project success is based on the project manager having:

  • Strong executive engagement and knowing how to establish rapport with the business sponsor and the Board.
  • A well-defined and pragmatic methodology as the foundation for managing the project.
  • Strong governance and visibility with formal approval points. The project manager must ensure that appropriate meetings and communications are established such as Steering Committees, Weekly Project Meetings or Daily Stand Up Meetings.
  • Focusing on core vs extraneous requirements. Staging the project with key milestones will ensure that progress is measured based on earned value and not on available budget. This is one of the biggest mistakes that inexperienced Project Managers make.
  • And finally, teamwork and collaboration with all of the business users to ensure active management of issue, action and change registers.

Ensure Success

  1. Start by setting up your project for success with strong process and executive engagement.
  2. Spend time planning the details and involving all stakeholders.
  3. Ensure you have a “No Surprises Policy” – manage expectations with milestones at short intervals to demonstrate delivery and build confidence with your team and your clients.

“CMC’s Consultants all have exceptional communication and leadership skills. Their flexibility, dedication, hard work and creative solutions assisted us in meeting our aggressive implementation schedules. Their ability to adapt to our approach and to a diverse team of individuals and personalities all contributed to the success of our projects”


David McBeth, Manager PMO – Staples (previously Corporate Express)