Project Management for Unofficial Project Managers: 3 Factors for Success


Today’s busy leaders are looking for effective ways to drive successful business outcomes. Because active organizations are always in flux, leaders often find themselves in the role of an unofficial project manager—or in a supporting role as a coach or mentor for an unofficial project manager.

The ability to provide skillful project management support that aligns work with high-value initiatives is one of the biggest contributing factors to project success—and a key component of leadership development. Project management within a framework of strategic leadership isn’t just about workflows and deadlines. To help projects run smoothly, leaders first need to understand the elements that contribute to a successful project.

The first factor is value. Value guides which projects get resourced and what outcomes are tied to their completion. Helping people work together effectively on project teams is the second factor in the success equation. Sound, functional processes aligned to business outcomes is the third factor. Knowing how to skillfully activate this combination—Value + People + Process—is the foundation for every project’s success and a core piece of strategic leadership development.

A Proposition of Value

Kory Kogon, VP of Content Development at FranklinCovey and co-author of Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager, underscores why leaders need to consider value first: “Overall value is the major principle. Whatever it is that you're creating, you should be asking yourself—does it provide value to the client and to our organization? And if it doesn't, stop what you're doing and change direction.”

A focus on value is the necessary beginning of the conversation. Setting goals for your project—whether it supports customers, internal team members, or a broader organizational initiative—establishes a compelling business-driven reason for doing the work and lays the energetic groundwork for supporting project infrastructure. Getting clear on the benefit you’re delivering will ensure that every project yields value for your organization. Because leaders have a broader view of organizational priorities, they’re often best positioned to articulate the value of a project and help project teams tie their efforts toward high-priority goals.

The Power of People

Healthy collaboration, even when people aren’t part of the same team, is a vital piece of project management. The success of projects hinges not only on the talent of each team member but on their ability to work well together to achieve project goals. Leaders can help facilitate collaboration and buy-in across teams to spur collective action and make sure everyone contributes their best work to a project.

Process as an Essential Element

Sound processes help teams successfully execute high-value projects on time and within budget. Skillful process architecture has a huge impact on the quality, sustainability, and measurability of the results each project delivers. Having a repeatable, tested project management process is what helps teams effectively deliver consistent results and achieve target outcomes.

When each component of the Value + People + Process equation is skillfully implemented and maintained, project success is a natural outcome. Use this framework to guide your projects as an unofficial manager—and help projects teams execute successful projects that move your organization’s most important goals and initiatives forward.

The ever-changing nature of modern organizations means leaders often play the role of unofficial project manager. Strengthen your skillset with a solid project management framework, supportive team coordination approach, and tools to eliminate friction.

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