Leveraging the Power of Visibility in Project Management

What is Project Management Visibility?

A shared misconception of project visibility centers on a fear that sharing information across an organization will increase the potential for information overload. Additionally, it is a collective belief that these streams of consistent communication can create more work and confusion and less productivity.

Although misguided, these fears run rampant through the hallways of many corporations and are the main reason that many companies hesitate to increase collaboration. The failure to embrace consistent communication and collaboration between the entire staff is one of the leading factors in the collapse of a project.

Fight The Threats Against Your Project

Projects in all industries are threatened with delays due to unmanaged risks, miscommunications, budget overruns, lack of real time visibility, and failure to collaborate on key deliverables. Organizations can elude these potential threats by embracing collaboration, communication, and real-time visibility tools. But, how does an organization implement project-wide collaboration and visibility to ensure success?

Visibility can start from the top or bottom of an organization, and it should be maintained during a project. Top level managers should make business objectives known and communicate a project’s purpose towards those objectives in real time. From the project employees’ side, their specific expertise needs to be utilized to allow stakeholders and decision-makers the ability to avoid and overcome challenges. So, from top to bottom, a collaborative effort of communication is essential to the success of a project.

How To Succeed Through Project Visibility

In order for a project to be successful, there are three main vantage points where your project should maintain visibility. These three sectors are:

1. Project Team:

A regular complaint and common reason for project failure is lack of visibility from the project team’s perspective. This becomes an issue for several reasons. First, when personnel lack visibility daily, it becomes difficult for them to understand their role in the project. Second, on occasions where an employee is working on multiple projects, it becomes strenuous for them to know the priority of their tasks. Third, they don’t understand the benefit to the organization for accomplishing their role and the desired outcome.

When each member of your project team understands their role and has clear, consistent communication to their responsibility within a project, they become a more effective, efficient employee. In professional sports, when each team member understands their respective role within the team, they excel in their corresponding positions on the field. As a result of each member carrying out their role on the field, the team becomes a cohesive unit that very rarely will make careless errors. A 2011 study by Pence & Wright shows that when a project provides clear communication and visibility, common errors that cost time and money decrease by 34%.

For team members who are working across different projects, visibility solves the issues that come from not understanding why projects are being done. When overall business and organizational objectives are communicated, the entire staff can take ownership of a project and their role within it. Knowing the organization’s priorities allows the team to understand their own priorities, and will lead to a more efficient team.

2. Project Managers:

Project managers need to know exactly how the projects they’re responsible for are doing. However, in today’s busy organizations, they rarely have the time to read through detailed status reports covering all aspects of the project. With so many variables to manage, it is difficult to find the time to adjust schedules and other critical project factors. This challenge starts to affect the visibility of the project on a team and executive level.

In a 2012 Project Management Survey, 53% of project managers surveyed claimed they lacked visibility across all of their projects. Through sharing with team members and having resources reallocated, attention to program and project visibility may start to recede. As a result, it becomes increasingly difficult for project managers to account for changes and plan accordingly.

The key to visibility for project managers is to have the most relevant data available to them in a timely matter.  Through dashboards and other real-time visibility tools, the management of these changes can have a substantial impact on the results of not one, but several projects. According to a Faulk, Netterwaite, Brand study, project managers can increase the likelihood of project success by 48% when relevant and current information is available to them regularly.

3. Executive Level:

Visibility into all enterprise projects is critical to the executive level. Their core responsibility is to accomplish organizational objectives. Many of these are done through projects. Top level management also can reallocate resources to accommodate a variety of variables than can affect the success of a project. Without the most up-to-date and accurate data, it becomes very difficult for them to do so.

Much like the project management level, executives can greatly benefit from snapshot style delivery that dashboards provide. With this high level visibility, they can monitor every aspect of a project. The quick access to this information allows them to make fast, educated decisions that can ultimately determine a project’s survival.

The executive level also plays a crucial role in implementing and maintaining visibility throughout the organization. As we said about the team level, communication of enterprise objectives as it pertains to projects is imperative. In the same sense, information funneled up from the team and project management levels is essential for the executive level to make critical and necessary decisions.

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