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Wednesday, 05 April 2017 22:12

Your Organization Culture Influences Project Success

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This content is from the TenStep weekly "tips" email dated 2017.5.4

Your Organization Culture Influences Project Success

It should come as no shock to learn that some organizations are better than others at managing projects. There are probably no organizations that have a 100% success rate, and hopefully none have a 0% success rate. However, some organizations definitely perform at a higher level than others.

There are a number of organizational factors that influence your ability to deliver projects successfully. Your organization’s culture has a lot to do with the success rate of your projects.

The term “culture” generally means “how we do things around here.” For example, if someone asked how well your organization's delivers projects, you might say “we are pretty weak at delivering projects on time and on budget”. If so, you are expressing your perception about your project delivery culture.

There are a number of areas where culture comes into play on projects.

  • Process orientation. Many organizations have good processes in place, and people generally follow them. This is perhaps the biggest single factor in overall project success. If your organization follows a good, scalable project management process, you are more likely to be consistently successful on your projects. This means that the entire project team generally knows how to create and follow a realistic schedule and can use standard processes to effectively handle risk, scope change and issues.
  • Governance. Many organizations have processes in place, but no one follows them. This is a problem with management governance. In simplistic terms, governance is the management function having to do with making sure people do what they are supposed to do. Typically, if your management structure is engaged and interested in projects, and if they make sure that your project management process is followed, you will tend to be more successful. If every project manager is on his or her own and management support is haphazard, you will tend to be less than successful.
  • Training. Some organizations do a poor job of training project managers. (Typically, these types of organizations do a poor job of training in general.) If project managers generally do not have the right skills (other than from the school of hard knocks) you will not be as successful as you like.
  • Sponsor engagement. In successful organizations, people typically know the role they play on projects and what is expected of them. This especially includes active and engaged sponsors. Sponsors need to provide guidance, monitor the project, remove barriers, approve major deliverables, and more. If your organization leaves project managers in a leadership vacuum without strong sponsor support, you are not going to be consistently successful.
Culture plays perhaps the biggest role in whether your organization is successful executing projects. If your organization has difficulty completing projects successfully, you cannot just blame the project managers. They are only toiling within a culture that is not supportive of their efforts. Managers, including the head of the organization, need to step up and evaluate the project culture. Until the culture changes, project managers will consistently struggle to be successful.
At TenStep we are dedicated to helping organizations achieve their goals and strategies through the successful execution of critical business projects. We provide training, consulting and products for organizations to help them set up an environment where projects are successful. This includes help with strategic planning, portfolio management, program / project management, Project Management Offices (PMOs) and project lifecycles. For more information, visit or contact us at
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