Project team culture is important

I’ve spoken before about what I see as the really strong value in creating what I call a ‘One Project Team culture‘  and a discussion that I had today reinforced my views on this principle.

Many projects fail, because there is too much tension around ‘who owns the system’ (business or IT); ‘they don’t deliver’ (and ‘they’ usually refers to the IT team/department; ‘you wanted too much’ (which is IT talking about the business); ‘you didn’t let us do our job’ (again IT talking about the business); ‘we know what’s best’ (IT talking TO the business).

Each of these statements are red rags to a bull in their own way, because they completely detract from the premise that “the business need IT and IT need the business.”  I can hear you guffawing at me already.  My view is that IT is an enabler for the business to do what it does best, and that is, service it’s customers AND, IT can’t do without the business, because if there was no business, then there would be no need for the IT systems.

Now in a project sense if you take this same statement, then it makes complete sense that a project team (where there is an IT component) must have both business and IT involvement.  Without it then it’s not going to work properly.  What’s the right mix, well generally I will say that the business are the Users and IT are the Suppliers and so from that perspective there might be multiple layers of supply requirements, for example an infrastructure component, and a database component and a security component, just to name a few.  This would mean that the IT input to the team might be larger than the business ‘User’ side.

What you don’t want is each of these areas working in isolation, that spells disaster for your project.  If on the other hand they work together.. magic!

The one key role of the Project Manager,  is to bring the team together to operate as one. I will always advocate for a Business PM who manages the project overall with an IT PM or stream lead managing the IT components,  CO-OPERATION is the key.  Get this right and your project will be nothing other than successful.

The other key in this whole mix is COMMUNICATION.  The team need to operate openly.  It’s no good IT hiding things from the business. The project won’t work and delivery will be jeopardized.  In the same instance the business needs to be clear on it’s requirements and allow IT to do what they do best, and that is create a solution from the available technology.  If there is mutual RESPECT amongst each of the areas (business and IT) then things will flow smoothly.

So many IT based projects fail because these key principles are not enacted.  Why, because there is no respect, and no team responsibility, and very little open communication.  And co-operation just doesn’t exist in the vocabulary. Holding one area to ransom when you don’t get what you want, is not a mutually beneficial outcome.

Next time you’re asked to project manage a project, whether it’s from the business side, or the IT side, seriously consider how you are going to operate, and co-operate with others in order to create a ‘one project team culture’, which is ultimately ‘Everyone working on the same page to achieve the same mutually beneficial outcome‘.

How amazing project land would be if this became the norm, rather than the exception.

As with all culture, it starts at the top.  You as the Project Manager leading and managing the team have the responsibility for setting up the culture of the entire team.  Take on that responsibility and make the effort.  Your reputation will be better for it if you do.



Written by Karen Munro