Four things every organisation needs most to deliver internal projects effectively

Lara Lavers

Lara Lavers

A while ago, I was brainstorming blog ideas with Struber’s Marketing team. At the time, I was supporting a client to deliver the mother-of-all strategic organisational improvement projects. We were navigating the obstacles associated with securing access and input from a range of internal stakeholders, who themselves were balancing the day-to-day demands of the core business.

Having worked in-house for major multinational corporations for more than ten years, I was intimately familiar with the challenges my client was facing. As the consulting lead on the project, the experience gave me a whole new perspective.

“What about a how-to guide for maintaining momentum on key strategic internal projects while balancing the demands of core business?” I suggested.

That conversation was three months ago. The irony certainly isn’t lost on me.

There are several reasons why intra-organisational projects lose momentum, blow out in terms of budget or timeframe, or even fail to launch entirely. Time to apply some of the advice I readily provided to my clients.

Here are four key components I’ve found every organisation needs to deliver game-changing internal projects effectively and efficiently

Understand the “…so what?”

One of the biggest obstacles to delivering an internal project is not having a clear understanding of the project’s ultimate value. When no one really knows why a project is necessary, let alone how it will improve their working lives or secure the sustainable success of the business, you’ll never get the buy-in required to effectively deliver the initiative.

The “…so what?” test is a great way to challenge and simplify the mission. This will ensure the project delivers in line with its intended outcomes, resonates with your employees, and stands up to scrutiny.

Dedicate the time required to clearly map how this project will directly improve your organisation’s ability to deliver its core business objectives, whether that be laying road or rail tracks, feeding the hungry, digging up copper ore, providing affordable housing, or supporting Australia’s clean energy transition. You have to bring the entire team on the journey – communicate, communicate, communicate!

Find your project hero

Every project needs a hero, and internal projects are no exception.

The person tasked with overseeing your internal project needs to have skin in the game, the ability to assemble the team required for delivery, drive to keep them motivated and on track, and the fortitude to keep the “…so what?” in the spotlight, especially in the face of competing team demands. This is where your organisation’s culture is instrumental and knowing what drives your employees is critical.

Remember, layering additional internal project work on team members with already-full schedules never ends well.

Set your internal projects up for success with appropriate resourcing. If you do decide to deliver an internal project without the help of external support, work with your project hero and team to realistically and strategically assess how business-as-usual will be managed parallel to the agreed special project deliverables.

Embrace the magic of deadlines

Parkinson’s Law states work expands to fill the time available for completion.

There’s something magical about a deadline. The sheer presence of a deadline plays directly into our psychology, and a little pressure can help cut procrastination, improve productivity, facilitate stronger teamwork, and lock our focus in on the core project objective, mitigating the dreaded scope creep that often accompanies internal projects.

Once you’ve set your “drop dead date”, break the project into meaningful, time-bound deliverables with clearly defined reporting objectives. What gets reported, gets done.

When you reach a milestone, celebrate! Share your success and recognise the valuable work of the project team while building a broader organisational understanding of the project’s value.

Call for backup

Pre-Struber career step-change, I can’t tell you how many hours I spent fumbling my way through complex graphic design projects myself, rather than bringing in an expert, in the name of ‘organisational cost savings’. It’s no secret that as a graphic designer, I make a great communications and engagement professional.

Sure, I’d get there in the end, but imagine how much more effectively my expertise could have been deployed had I not been stuck in an InDesign nightmare, taking three times as long as it would have taken an actual graphic designer.

Just because your gun project manager can nut their way through the project to eventually deliver a workable solution, doesn’t mean they should. A dedicated taskforce of specialists equipped with the precise skills and expertise required for your initiative can deliver results faster and more cost-efficiently while freeing your people up to focus on what they do best.

Got an internal project you’re struggling to unlock? Struber can help.

Four things every organisation needs most to deliver internal projects effectively
Lara Lavers
November 8, 2021
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