Association for Project Management
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In a digital age, project professionals must place greater importance on human relationships

The adoption of artificial intelligence into industry is reshaping the project management landscape. The impacts of AI on project management are already being felt. MIGSO-PCUBED, a global consultancy in project, programme, and change management, is among the leaders when it comes to applying AI to projects. Their Intelligent Project Prediction tool leverages machine learning and analytics to predict how projects will perform.

But this isn’t the only way the organisation is predicting project outcomes, mitigating risks, and enhancing decision-making. A new process for improving working relationships is also having a positive impact.

The impact of business to business (B2B) relationships in project delivery – and business success – has long been known, but the way these relationships are assessed is changing. Traditional tools such as the RACI (responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed) matrix can be useful for defining roles and responsibilities in a B2B relationship, but they can’t quantify how well the relationship is performing.

MIGSO-PCUBED is addressing this with a new process for managing B2B relationship capability, along with a specialist measurement tool. The process has been pioneered by business consultancy SHAPE International and enhanced with research by MIGSO-PCUBED into what their clients want.

David Whitmore, Strategic Advisor at MIGSO-PCUBED, said: “There’s no example of a successful major project that had a failed relationship. But there are plenty of examples of failed projects that had failed relationships.

“Few project professionals put B2B relationship management on their risk register, even though they know it’s a risk.

“This process is for project managers and their clients, because the relationships need to be two-way. We need both parties to contribute to the relationship and to take steps to make it work.”

The process takes into account seven dimensions of B2B relationships:

  • Partner selection
  • Nature of the contract
  • Understanding each other
  • Personal relationships
  • Way of working
  • Dealing with problems
  • Performance management

“It doesn’t mean it’s a ‘stopper’ if any of the dimensions are misaligned,” David explained. “But it’s important to know because intervention might be needed.”

The process allows partners to assess their specific relationship, quantifying such abstract concepts as trust and integrity – if that’s what they agree is important to their relationship. By providing continuous measurement, improvement opportunities can be identified.

Benefits have already been demonstrated on existing projects, where the capability helped the project team to understand issues that were arising due to plans not being shared across organisations. By addressing this, the project team was able to come up with more detailed workflows and assign the right people to particular tasks.

James White, Head of Nuclear at MIGSO-PCUBED, added: “It’s now recognised in government that poor relationships are something that can cause projects to fail. The Government has set its Invitations to Tender (ITT) documents to contain a question about how bidders will manage their relationships with government and the potentially many different supply chains.

“It’s now on the agenda. This process takes that insight to another level.”

David is calling on the wider project profession to give greater consideration to B2B relationships, and for individual project professionals to improve their understanding.

“In the project space, it’s difficult for people who have never been trained in behavioural psychology to embrace these relationship aspects at a cultural level,” he said.

“The educational and training aspect of this is really important.”

Further reading

Project professionals and business leaders who would like to understand more about how MIGSO-PCUBED’s B2B relationship capability process can help them can contact david.whitmore@migso-pcubed.com or james.white@migso-pcubed.com

More information about competences associated with ‘people and behaviours’, including stakeholder engagement and communication management, can be found in APM’s Competence Framework. Additionally, APM’s Dynamic Skills for Project Success includes team ethos, interpersonal skills and contracts among factors that can determine project outcomes.

Channel website: https://www.apm.org.uk/

Original article link: https://www.apm.org.uk/news/in-a-digital-age-project-professionals-must-place-greater-importance-on-human-relationships/

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