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Project Controls in the Boardroom Series - the Key Roles Your C-Suite Play in Driving Project Controls Excellence

by Sjef van Vugt, on Mar 16, 2023 11:00:00 AM

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The desire for growth will push organisations to seek ways to boost revenues, minimise costs and achieve more streamlined efficiency. The opportunities are out there but it’s important to choose projects wisely.

The financial rewards can be tantalising. However, risk shadows every project and even one error could result in damage - reputational, financial or both.

Large-scale and multiple projects add extra layers of complexity. Reflected in the stricter standards of modern tenders and contracts.

Primaned believes these are all good reasons to put Project Controls in the Boardroom. When Project Controls is woven into your project management approach, it puts the focus on how to get the best out of your people, processes and tools.

Why CEOs Should Have More Meaningful Conversations in the Boardroom

What CEO doesn’t want a trusted reputation for excellence and consistent project delivery success?

It makes for satisfied stakeholders, happy clients, and huge kudos for you and your team.

With increasingly complex projects, pressurised timescales and massive logistics to manage, organisations need to be on top of their game. It only takes one mistake, misstep or oversight to cause delay, financial loss or even catastrophic failure.

It is why leaders should consider a Project Controls approach to project management. Primaned believes CEOs can have more meaningful conversations about Project Controls in the boardroom.

This is about knowing the numbers. Clear, accurate and up-to-date numbers. Not just for individual projects but across your whole portfolio. That allows you to make better strategic decisions.

Guarding Your Reputation for Good

When it comes to reputation, one of the biggest risks to your organisation is from a cyber-attack, data breach or compliance failure. You want to be confident everything is secure and watertight on that front.

You don’t want excuses from your CIO over that. Just as you don’t want lame excuses as to why performance is not as it should be. Your COO should be ensuring the right people and resources are in place, for current and planned projects, to maximise operational efficiency.

To build growth and improve profitability, you also need projects to stick to scope and budget. Are you getting the reports and data you need to have a clear picture of what’s happening - from a micro or a meta view?

The Top 5 Project Controls Questions a CEO Should Ask their C-Suite

For the CEO, having more meaningful conversations in the boardroom means asking the most challenging and relevant questions of their C-suite colleagues.

What questions are you asking? Are you satisfied with the answers? Do you need to probe further, dig a little deeper (without getting bogged down by unnecessary details)?

Before you make big decisions in the boardroom, you want clarity. You need to be able to trust the data and the picture that is being painted for you by your colleagues.

The critical question to ask your CFO is something like this...

What is our Earned Value (EV) position within our portfolio - and are there any major exceptions?

This is one of the top five questions a CEO should be asking the C-suite about Project Controls.

You’re probably not that interested in knowing all the tools and apps used to keep your organisation running. However, it is worth keeping your CIO on their toes about smart tech - to ensure the right tools are in place for people to perform at their best.

Press your COO around people, processes and resources. All three are critical for building capabilities and consistent project success.

If you do not have a Chief Projects Officer (CPO) in the boardroom, seriously consider getting one in. You’ll have plenty of questions for them - and a good one will have most of the answers.

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How the CFO Can Build Sustained Profitability

Every organisation seeking growth is looking to increase profitability. However, you are only as good as your last project.

Imagine a golfer who plays a marvellous tee shot. It lands in the perfect part of the fairway to attack the green beyond the lake in front of it. The golfer could be one of the few to make a birdie on this tricky hole. They take their second shot but slightly under hit the ball... and it lands in the water. They’ll now be lucky to make par.

It’s the same with projects...

You don’t want to deliver a fantastic project, to scope and on budget, and then mess up the next one.

To create and build sustained profitability requires consistency of approach. That is why Primaned encourages organisations to embrace Project Controls. It represents an upgrade in project management excellence.

Project Controls can help the pressured CFO to meet his or her biggest data challenges, see the bigger picture and design the right structures for project success. Project Controls, especially with the support of independent consultants, can offer insights for maximising efficiency and sharpening up those numbers.

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The 7 Key Challenges Facing CFOs Today

In the C-suite, it’s the CFO who is going to be on top of the money and the numbers. Some organisations make that responsibility more difficult by having weak systems, processes and tools.

There are many challenges, some more critical than others for the finance lead who demands transparency in the figures.

Ask Yourself the Big Questions...

Are you able to access the information you require, both at an individual project level and at an all-encompassing portfolio level? Are you able to do that quickly and easily, or does it take up too much of your time and the time of your team?

Are you able to rapidly access documents and quality data, to provide evidence to the banks or private investors in support of next-phase payments or a new project idea?

Are you and your team on the case around ensuring global tax and legal structures for international projects are researched, managed and communicated?

If your systems, processes or tools are letting you down, it’s a sign you should be considering a Project Controls approach to get things in better shape.

Find out more about how Project Controls can help you overcome the seven key challenges for CFOs in our latest blog.

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Guiding CIOs to Build Success with Smart Tech and
Safe Data

The CIO probably understands best the important part technology plays in delivering performance and success.

Colleagues just want the systems and tools to make their lives easier. But the CIO is the technical expert who can make the difference that makes the difference.

When a CIO listens to C-suite colleagues and truly understands their challenges and pain points, this leader can begin to find solutions and resolve problems.

A priority responsibility for the CIO is to ensure data security across the organisation - and for all project partners and stakeholders. Regular reviews of your cloud solutions, server, hardware, software and other tools is a sensible way to minimise the risks.

Choosing the Right Tools for the Job

Another big responsibility is ensuring people across the organisation have the tools they need to do their job well - productively, collaboratively and efficiently.

High performance does not happen by chance. You don’t want hassle, delays or errors to happen because the technology was not up to the job.

It’s not even a case of just buying the most expensive or ‘fancy’ software. The key is to understand what your organisation, teams and leaders need. And then find the tech solutions which deliver to those needs.

That’s the essence of it. And there is always more to learn about how to build success with smart tech and safe data.

How CIOs Can Keep Data Secure and Stay Ahead of the Tech Curve

Two powerful ways for a CIO to protect an organisation’s reputation and performance levels are to keep data secure and stay ahead of the technology curve.

This way, you minimise risk and maximise opportunities. Let’s briefly explore both approaches.

Staying Compliant and Data Aware

Are you 100% confident everything is in place around your data protection and data security protocols

One breach could prove very costly, as UK construction group Interserve discovered. They were stung with a £4.4 million fine by the watchdog after a cyber-attack. Ouch!

Education, training and briefings for employers, contractors and clients can help to ensure silly (and unnecessary) mistakes trip you up. Ongoing research and updates will help you keep on top of changes to laws, rules and regulations in each country you do business in.

Keeping at the Forefront of Innovation

Using high quality modern project management tools will help to stay compliant and keep data secure. But their value is much greater than that.

If your people are getting by with old systems, elementary applications or a mishmash of tools, it is a good idea to review everything and stay up to date with the latest developments in technology.

New tools, upgrades or software systems could be just what your organisation needs. Can you take the initiative, find something better and bring a proposal forward to impress the board?

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Six Secrets for COOs to Build Capabilities with
PM Mastery

Every COO understands that the CEO just wants to get projects moving. The expectation is the COO will ‘just make it happen’.

The way to do that is to build your organisation’s capabilities with project management mastery. There are six secrets for COOs around that... and here are three of those ‘secrets’ for you.

Secret #1 - Have the Right People and Resources in Place

As a COO, your CEO is going to ask how projects are going and whether the organisation has the right skills, knowledge and experience for current - and future - needs. That’s easier to answer when you have the right people and resources in place.

Secret #2 - Put PM at the Heart of Operations

It sounds obvious to say it, but we live in a different world to 10 or 15 years’ ago. Some organisations may have got by with lower standards in the past but not so much today. Complex projects bring more stringent requirements around your standards and how you operate.

With a Project Controls approach, you place project management at the heart of operations to ensure all those boxes are ticked for tenders and clients.

Secret #3 - Manage Change Effectively

Change is inevitable, even if the construction industry can be a little slow to adapt. Increasingly, the COO has to be a champion for change and support teams through the process (perhaps with the assistance of external change specialists).

Ways for COOs to Increase Project Controls
Operational Efficiency

The six secrets are all about building your capacity, resilience and performance as an organisation.

There are many ways to increase Project Controls operational efficiency. Part of raising PM standards is to inject PM awareness, knowledge and capabilities into the production team.

It helps if you adopt a strategy of hiring the best you can afford in key positions, and also look after the general labour force well. This way, you can have greater confidence with how multiple projects will be run.

Look at your processes to find ways to streamline them. Review PM methodologies, time management, planning, scheduling, compliance and your tender application process, for example.

Work with your CIO and CPO to explore ways to optimise performance using smart technology.

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Six Ways for CPOs to Build Consistent Project Success

The CPO is in charge of making Project Controls happen. It is a part of project management that can bring out the best in your people, processes and tools.

Primaned has at least six ways for you to build consistent project success. Here are just three of them.

1. Maintain Your Margin and a Balanced EV

Margins in the construction industry can be notoriously slim, even down to one or two percent. That makes it imperative to make every pound count.

You’ll want to keep a close eye on the EV for each project, and within your entire portfolio to ensure a balanced EV across the board. Outlier scores will require action.

2. Keep Your Staff Happy

When you have a group of technical, analytical and creative problem solvers, you’ll know they love a challenge and like to keep their brains busy. How can you support, nurture and motivate them to deliver their best - and stay with your organisation?

3. Find Solutions Under Pressure

To keep everything on track - and all the plates spinning nicely - there are going to be times when you need to find solutions to problems. And fast! Adopting a Project Controls approach can help to build that ‘creative’ thinking into the process.

That’s three ways for consistent project success. Discover the other three ways here.

CPO Tips for Keeping Your Margins Healthy, Your People Happy and Your Organisation Competitive

Primaned has made some notes on how to keep your margins healthy, people happy and the organisation competitive. Our consultants are known for the insights they bring to Project Controls and project management.

The theory for improving margins is simple. Increase your revenues and reduce your costs. Of course, it is not as simple as that in reality. Otherwise every company would be at the top in their industry!

What distinguishes the most successful from the runners up in the construction project race, is a combination of vision, planning, quality and consistent best practice.

The art is keeping costs low whilst retaining quality, and increasing revenue (for example, by hitting milestones and deadlines linked to bonus payments). All the while, keeping a close eye on cash flow and forecasts.

The art is having a solid system of support, mentoring, coaching and training to empower people to be their very best, without having to be micromanaged.

The art is understanding how your technology is performing as an enabler for your people. Is it a help or a hindrance? Imagine if you could save every person in your organisation two hours per week through the deployment of smarter tools. How about 5 hours? 10 hours? 

Think what that could mean for performance, capacity and efficiency.

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Project Controls in the Boardroom

It is, of course, easier for an organisation to say it wants growth than to achieve it. It does not happen by chance.

With competition tight and margins often very fine, leaders in the construction industry require a strong boardroom to help them steer a course for success.

Primaned believes that the boardroom should contain Project Controls and have more meaningful conversations about how Project Controls can help deliver the most out of people, processes and tools.

Your organisation needs a clear view of the bigger picture. 

You want to be able to build sustained profitability for growth. You want to be able to build your capabilities so you can complete projects to scope and budget - and have space to take on new projects with good profit potential. You want to build success with smart tech and safe data, stay ahead of the tech curve and increase your operational efficiency.

A sound foundation for achieving all that is to place Project Controls in the boardroom. And put PC at the heart of your PM approach.

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Topics:PC Boardroom


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