In many businesses, a mass collection of templates and rules serve as the methodology for project management offices (PMO).  However, all too often, cumulative rulebooks operate as glorified paperweights, sitting around collecting digital dust, rather than meaningful sources of information supplied to efficiently guide project managers (PMs) to successful outcomes.  

Often, less experienced PMs will attempt to follow every element of a company’s method, even to a project’s deficit, while those more experienced will ignore it altogether.  By streamlining and revamping your methodology, you can find middle ground and implement an approach that works for PMs at any stage of their career. The following is a bit of advice for successfully implementing new methodology.

Involve the Team  

Renowned investor, Warren Buffett, coined the phrase: skin in the game.  These three little words refer to individuals who have a significant stake in a situation, making them more invested due to their personal involvement.  When implementing new methodology, it is important to make sure that your PMs are on board with your ideas, and the easiest way to accomplish this task is by ensuring that they have skin in your methodology game.  

As project managers are constantly in the PMO trenches, they are often one of the best sources for identifying and preventing potential issues.  To save time and resources, identify key project control points and templates that deliver the most value for the PMs. Once unnecessary documents have been weeded from the pile, the project managers can be consulted to help identify inefficiencies and where improvements can be made.  After these changes have been implemented, PMs can test the new multi-purpose templates and reporting mechanism. By taking into consideration the PM feedback, the probability of acceptance is increased, as the team will have a vested interest in seeing the new methods succeed.

Mandatory vs. Optional

Every project involves elements that are crucial to the success of the venture and ancillary tasks that may be foregone for reasons such as lack of time or resources.  It is important to visually represent your ideas so that your team has a clear picture of how a project will progress. When getting your team on the same page, a picture is truly worth a thousand words.  Create a flow diagram containing hyperlinks to the templates needed for each step of the project.

Identify the steps and documentation required for the type of project being undertaken and delineate them as Mandatory.  Label residual tasks as optional elements that can be utilized at the discretion of the PM. Maintain a record of the choices being made and reasons why PMs choose not to use certain optional elements.  This approach provides flexibility and empowers PMs to make decisions, while maintaining accountability.

Skip the Paper

It is likely that you have experienced a situation where you ran late to a meeting and grabbed what you thought was crucial paperwork, only to find out later that you snatched a copy that was not up-to-date.  While having tangible documents may be appropriate at times, when working with teams across many departments, it is best to skip the paper as much as possible.  

Once your new, tried-and-tested methodology is complete, publish the documents on your company’s intranet.  Discourage your colleagues from printing the guidance or utilizing previously completed templates; rather, direct them to the intranet site.  By utilizing the intranet instead of printouts, you can make tweaks to the new documents and ensure that your team is using the latest versions.

Review and Tune

Like most things in life, your first shot may not always land in the bullseye.  Getting post-implementation feedback is a necessary step in the development process.  By carrying out regular surveys and review meetings, you can learn from your team’s pain points and make adjustments to the new approach.  This process will provide fluidity and allow you to adapt to unanticipated twists and turns.