Major projects are exciting – they promise big improvements. If you’re leading such a project, success can be a feather in your professional cap. These projects can be a bear to mange because they’re complex and depend on many people across the enterprise. Wouldn’t it be great to have a tool to help you to mobilize the support and cooperation required?
Major projects often involve redesign of business processes. This means that people will have to change the way that they do their jobs. The resulting resistance will appear at all levels of the company. If unmanaged, it can demoralize your project team, cause project delays, and diminish project acceptance.
There is a way that you can move to reduce this type of risk. Establish an executive steering committee for the project. This executive team should consist of people across the enterprise representing the areas that are on the project team and/or will be affected by the initiative. This committee needs to be at a higher level than the members of the project team. How much higher depends on the strategic importance and cost of the project. You also want to limit the number of people on this team – ideally three to five, more than seven starts to become unwieldy.
The executive steering committee should agree on the expected project deliverables and outcomes, the project plan (at a high level), change management strategy, and if consultants or contractors play a decisive role in project execution, monitor their selection and performance. This group might meet monthly, or as project conditions warrant.
Having an executive steering committee does six things:
- Increases the visibility of the project and signals executive commitment to it,
- Increases the resources available to facilitate change management (members of the executive team can be called upon to help),
- Provides a forum for resolving conflicts that might arise within the project team,
- Provides additional incentive for project team members to meet deliverables since schedule will be discussed at executive meetings,
- Reporting to a steering committee forces project managers to focus on what is going on at a higher level to ensure a clear and consistent story.
- Provides opportunities for the project manager and team to expand and strengthen their networks within the company.
While an an executive steering committee is extra work for the project team, it will reduce the time and effort required to chase resources and increase the project’s chances of success.
QUESTION: What advice do you have for working with executive steering committees?
Leadership/Career Coach Kris Ishibashi is a certified Hogan provider. She works with leaders to bring together their skills, their authentic selves, and their intentions to inspire their organizations to superior performance. Click here to set up a complimentary consultation.