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Eddie Kilkelly


Managing Director

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The importance of embedding best practices


How can organisations embed best practices to deliver success? Eddie Kilkelly, chief operating officer at ILX Group plc examines the role for HR and training managers.
There is an increasing number of training courses and qualifications for project managers and a variety of best practice models that can be adopted to help deliver success. Yet project management continues to be one of the least understood – and practised - corporate disciplines. Part of the problem is perceived familiarity – people have a cursory understanding of the need to draw up project plans, justify projects, communicate activity, measure and evaluate progress. Much of it seems like common sense, but it is the processes, procedures, tools and guidelines that elevate this to recognised best practice.
"Project management continues to be one of the least understood – and practised - corporate disciplines."

Creating a supportive, skilled PM culture

Many people still have the perception that project management is something that project managers do, rather than a discipline in which the whole organisation is involved. Yet as more employees are exposed to project management training, it becomes part of the fabric of corporate life. An ideal way of accelerating change is by including project management awareness training in the induction programme and by integrating the attainment of relevant skills into each employee's performance objectives. 
Furthermore, managers may believe generic project management training or accreditation will deliver the necessary skillsets, but while they provide a good foundation there is often a critical gap in understanding 'how projects are run within this organisation'. The latter is the key determinant of success, so training managers need to think about providing organisation-specific training or coaching and mentoring in order to help employees become truly effective. It is only once the same model, tools and language are shared and used on an on-going basis that best practice becomes part of the organisation's culture.
From a task-oriented perspective, managers need to re-evaluate the competences of each project team member. A person can have the right skills at a superficial level, but those skills may not fit the context of the current project environment. HR managers and project managers must work together to conduct a thorough skills audit, and ensure that any project-specific skills gaps are bridged in advance. It's also important to remember there are three levels of project management training. Project sponsors often have plenty of experience and authority but they may need to be coached to develop programme specific skills in governance, leadership and ownership. Similarly, project managers need to understand how they can deliver success when they do not necessarily have direct managerial control over the necessary resources, as much as they need to understand efficient, timely and logical workflows. Other members of the project team will need to understand the scope of the project and the terminology and practical techniques they will need to use. 

The future of programme and project management

In February 2011, the discipline of project management took yet another step forward with the publication of two new volumes of guidance from the Office of Government Commerce (OGC). In recognition of the fact that many organisations are running numerous programmes and projects concurrently, OGC has compiled 'Management of Portfolios' (MoP™), which helps decision makers prioritise investment and scheduling of these programmes in line with the businesses' objectives and processes. In addition, OGC launched 'Management of Value' (MoV™), which aims to help decision makers prioritise the allocation of human and other resources in order to deliver the best return on portfolios, programmes and projects. This is likely to impact the career aspirations and training requirements of project management professionals. While many were happy to be known as project managers a decade ago, some will now recognise their roles as portfolio managers or at least will require an understanding of the principles of the new frameworks.
"HR managers and project managers must work together to conduct a thorough skills audit, and ensure that any project-specific skills gaps are bridged in advance."

How effective are you?

Arguably, in order to embed best practice and the skills the organisation needs, HR and training managers need to understand best practices and the roles and responsibilities within project teams. Many introductory courses are available to help increase awareness of specific methodologies; ideally HR professionals will have undertaken these courses themselves. In addition, they need to work more closely with project and portfolio managers or become an integral part of internal project offices or centres of excellence. This will help to ensure the right employees with the right skills are available at the right time in order to help deliver the projects deemed most critical to business performance. Finally, such exposure to best practice should help HR professionals undertake their own projects in a more efficient and effective manner.
Eddie Kilkelly is chief operating officer of ILX Group plc. He joined the group in March 2006 as group operations director. Eddie has a background in programme, project and IT service management gained both as a practitioner and as an implementation consultant and has worked with clients including DHL, UBS, Barclays, DWP and The Home Office. For more information about Management of Values (MoV™),or Management of Portfolios (MoP™), visit

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Eddie Kilkelly

Managing Director

Read more from Eddie Kilkelly

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