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How to create high-performing project management teams

Sharon Florentine | June 3, 2014
Top-notch IT product-delivery teams have three traits in common. Find out to build those project management attributes in your team.

Winquist says teams that are brought fully into the entire product delivery process and are given a broad context into which their work will fit view themselves as a key business driver within the organization, and will actually deliver better, more innovative products.

"The movement of businesses is toward thinking about how each project fits into the greater goal of delivering value to customers? How can you think about project management — and move to delivering value instead of just things," Winquist says.

By focusing on employee engagement and helping employees understand what they're building, how their work impacts customers, and how it fits into the larger picture of the business, teams will be much more successful, he says.

"One challenge with all projects is that the people who provide the requirements often don't have a picture of what the customer actually needs," says Kurt Bittner, principal analyst for application development and delivery professionals for Forrester. "The more feedback you can get while the project is ongoing, the better you can do at delivering what the customer wants and needs," he says.

However, this doesn't happen today in many complex IT organizations where product teams may be siloed in different knowledge centers, business units or even separated by geography.

That's why it's important to enable organizations to share information in a collaborative way, and in the larger business context, JAMA Software's Winquist says, and focus on the overall outcome and business value those products will deliver.

"The third thing 'victors' had in common was a focus on overall outcomes versus a focus on individual features," says Winquist. "What will this project allow the business to do better? What benefits will it provide to customers, and how can we improve the business and deliver that value quickly?" he says.

Follow Agile Methodology for Project Management

This way of thinking is similar to the minimum viable product concept of an agile development methodology, says Winquist, in which projects are begun and delivered in iterations, with constant feedback and improvements along the way.

"You start, get up to speed quickly, and then you deliver the minimum amount of functionality you can to deliver business value," Winquist says.

"Organizations always have been concerned with building a product only to find that it's wrong, or that it doesn't meet customer needs," says Forrester's Bittner.

"But this way, they're eliminating that concern. And improved feedback loops and working on products and projects iteratively also reduces waste, improves productivity and employee engagement in the long run," Bittner says.

Making Employees More Involved, More Engaged

With increased collaboration and feedback, employees tend to be more productive because the chance of wasting their time on pointless work is greatly reduced, says Bittner. But another benefit is that employees are more engaged and loyal if they feel empowered to make decisions and feel they're making a difference to the company.


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