The 3 M's for successful project management: people, people, people


Companies want to digitalize themselves, become more agile and modern. Millions are invested in IT projects, and not just since yesterday. Nevertheless, many projects do not bring the hoped-for success or fail right down the line. Why is that? It's usually not the fault of the technology. While successful real estate managers focus on the famous three Ls - location, location, location - things are a bit more complicated in project management. The three M's relevant here - people, people, people - only become a success factor with targeted strategy, good planning and constant attention.


The three most important people (groups) on any project

As obvious as it seems, one role on projects is nevertheless often neglected: project management. In many companies, people have established themselves who are repeatedly called upon for projects. This is not wrong in terms of the idea, as they can draw on a corresponding amount of experience. Unfortunately, however, they are not always suitable for the job, not sufficiently competent in every subject area and, above all, not sufficiently respected. The project manager is not only responsible for the proper planning and execution of the project. As a rule, the respectability and acceptance of the entire project stands and falls with this role.

The second M stands for all people in the company who have an active or passive role in the project. The common slogan for this is: "Turn those affected into participants." Sounds easy, but it's not. The larger the project, the more different characters and circumstances impact the project. Supporters must be identified and utilized, and resistance must be taken seriously and eliminated as far as possible. Those who persuade may bring the project to an end. But only those who convince will lead the project to success.

All other stakeholders form the third M for successful project management. Usually, these are primarily the top management and, if applicable, the owners of the company. They must be informed appropriately in order to ensure the all-important support "from above". What is often forgotten in the process: They should not only be informed, but also involved. If there are conflicts of goals and interests, if risks arise or if changes to the plan seem sensible, the early involvement of decision-makers makes a valuable difference.


Five tools for managing people - and taking them with you

Taking all three "M "s into account is a prerequisite for successful project management. Five steps have been established for this purpose, from the allocation of tasks to initial communication and ongoing exchange throughout the entire project period.


1. Staff the project management correctly

  • Is there sufficient technical competence for the role?
  • Is there personal motivation (or can be created by linking to a later job) and does the person have the standing to be taken seriously?
  • Can the person build on experience in project management and team leadership? Is she able to communicate in all directions? Should personal coaching be provided in parallel, if necessary, to develop soft skills?


2. Define goals and strategy in a comprehensible way

  • What is the necessity of the project based on? Which argumentation is suitable for which target group?
  • What is to be achieved? What are the concrete results that measure the success of the project? What changes do employees need to be prepared for?
  • Which method will be used in the project? Which roles and responsibilities are organized and how?


3. Ensure consistent communication

  • Are the key communication messages aligned?
  • Is it clear to all responsible who, when, talks to whom about what?
  • Is there a backup pool of prepared communications in case of major resistance or misunderstanding?


4. Use the personal strengths of each team member

  • Does the team have all the necessary skills and knowledge to make the project a success?
  • Does the project planning leave enough room for those who want to design?
  • Are roles also provided for those who bring experience and knowledge but are reluctant to act independently?


5. Ensure exchange with all stakeholders

  • Is there an open exchange with steering committees? Are steering committees also used proactively to drive issues forward?
  • Are there regular pulse checks with stakeholders to gauge both content acceptance and personal satisfaction?
  • Is the mood within the project team known and are concerns and resistance responded to appropriately?
  • Are there relevant stakeholders outside the project team who are regularly involved, for example via a sounding board?


With teamwork to success

Projects rarely fail because a tool doesn't work or a sign was misplaced in the process documentation. They fail because the people who are supposed to change something about their previous work routine don't do it. This does not have to be ill will. If needs are misunderstood or requirements are poorly communicated, missing the actual goals is inevitable.

The greater the changes aimed at, the more important the human factor becomes. That is why it is indispensable for successful project management to reach the right people in the right way. This is how honest teamwork succeeds. And, as we all know, this is where the best results come from.

Your contact person for successful project management

Dr. Sonia Vilaclara