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Project Management and Leadership

Projects are an increasingly important part of business and the way companies operate. Most employees of companies and organizations are involved in or in charge of projects. The skills involved in leading and working on projects are therefore central to working life. Having a clear understanding of project management dynamics and methods will allow you to select the best tools for managing and carrying out your own projects successfully.

Aalto PRO’s training workshops will provide you with diverse project competencies, update your knowledge and skills, and enable you to increase the maturity of your organization's project management. You will also be more successful in your projects and build a brand for your business or organization as a credible and desired project partner in your sector. Effective project management boosts the productivity of project work, thereby increasing the profitability of projects and business and improving the use of resources.

 

In the Future, All Business Activities Will Be Project-based

In the future, organizations' business activities will increasingly be centered on project-based business ventures, or projects will be otherwise central to the way organizations operate. The skills involved in leading and working on projects are therefore becoming more and more central to working life. Having a clear understanding of project management dynamics and a good overview of tools and methods will enable you to select suitable tools for managing your own projects.

Only good project leadership ensures that things run smoothly."

The achievement of goals is managed within individual projects, but difficulties often arise when prioritizing between projects and managing workloads.

Developing common practices can also be difficult. Multi-project environments and large and demanding mega-class projects are particularly challenging to manage and lead. On a global scale, it is estimated that one-third of major projects exceed their budgeted costs. Scaling project management is challenging, as project management is more about full-scale, temporary project organizations that need their own strong leadership.

The Project Leader Keeps All Parties Committed to the Project

The project leader’s key tasks include engaging various stakeholders to foster project implementation and building a team with all parties involved in the project, which keeps to the schedule and stays together from beginning to end. To achieve this, the project leaders must be able to apply project management knowledge, skills, and methods to achieve the desired goal. In urban development projects, for example, success and a shared vision are better achieved by focusing more attention – among all known stakeholders – on the development stage, before the setup phase begins.

Project managers are required to have expertise in project management and leadership along with customer orientation skills. The bigger the project, the more the importance of these three areas becomes emphasized.

Project management focuses on project planning and ensuring that the project is implemented according to objectives during the project’s time frame. Project leadership focuses on leading the project team and managing other roles closely involved in the project. The purpose is to make sure that the project team is working well and can react to changes during the project. Good leadership starts even before the project begins by appointing the project team and continues after the end of the project by ensuring that the members of the project team will face new challenges in future projects and have enhanced their expertise. The third aspect is customer orientation. At the end of the day, the project customers or owners want to see benefits that result from the project. Customer orientation is about understanding and achieving these benefits and objectives. The customer’s needs and wishes may change during the project. By understanding this, the project leader will be able to make decisions during the project to move in the right direction. This way, the project leader can guarantee project owners, stakeholders, and customers the opportunity to achieve not only the project’s internal goals but also the envisioned benefits.

This means that in order to carry out the project successfully, the project manager needs to grow into a project leader. The project manager’s thinking focuses particularly on the project team, the project manager’s target group. Project managers need to understand the project’s methods and the different means of achieving the project’s end result. Planning the project, defining and scheduling the work packages and monitoring progress are among essential skills and experience. Project leaders need to grow from project team leaders to leaders of the entire project stakeholder group. The project leader needs to be able to talk to the steering group and customers in their language and style, understand the objectives on a larger scale and see how each project is linked to the goals and priorities of the company or program. This way, the project leader will also be able to promote the success of the leader’s own project and help increase the project team’s expertise.

Project Planning Requires Functional Tools and Methods

A great deal of development activity in Finland makes headway via projects. Success factors in projects include coordinating the interests of the various parties, determining the project’s scope, management of time and resources, procurement skills, communications, and the ability to maintain a goal-based approach in an uncertain and changing operating environment. In project leadership, it is important to highlight what is being done and why, and why issues such as schedules and resources need to be in order at every turn.

Gaining a better view into the project organization and its subcontractors leads to better progress in achieving the project’s objectives. This can be achieved with the appropriate project tools and methods. Successful leadership-building is reflected in a good team spirit and a well-functioning culture within the project organization. When this is combined with the right technology and project methods, the project has the prerequisites for succeeding according to plan.

Successful Project Leadership Is a Competitive Advantage

When project activities increase, the organization needs to consider how to organize its project activities as a whole. Well-executed project leadership at organizational level can serve as a competitive advantage over other players in the sector. This refers to higher-level mechanisms than individual project management, which enable an organization to raise the maturity of its project activities and achieve the desired result. The key is to consider how projects are linked to the organization’s services and product management.

Agile operating models, such as Agile, Scrum, and Safe, will not replace traditional project leadership. There is a place and time for both types of operating models, depending on the nature of the project and the company’s method of operating. Project leadership expertise takes center stage when choosing a suitable project management approach for different types of projects.

Project Leadership Is Leadership of People

As project work increases and becomes an everyday practice, people's traditional job descriptions will change to include project work as a permanent component. In such a case, the focus of project leadership will shift from responsibility for projects only, to include responsibility for staff. Supervisor-type roles are highlighted in project leadership.

A good project leader must understand his or her own leadership profile, promote the development of an atmosphere of trust within the project team, steering group, and among other stake-holders, and become familiar with the various motivational factors that get the best out of different people.

In projects, leadership involves the development of multi-dimensional management of wholes, while leading people working in different stakeholder groups. Everything begins with self-knowledge, understanding of differences, situational awareness and interaction skills.

 

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Petri Lehtivaara

Solutions Director

+358 10 837 3722

petri.lehtivaara@aaltoee.fi