Project value has changed a lot over the past decades. In our parents’ generation, the idea of a project was linked to two professional profiles: architects and engineers. Where the architect combined artistic creativity and practicality, and the engineer due to his capacity of imposing his vision to nature, connecting long distances through bridges, roads, oil pipelines and great achievements such as the airplane and the television.
Projects in a world of transformation
Currently, digital transformation is a companies’ first challenge.
As a consequence of those advancements, today, the project by antonomasia is technological. The projects expert is normally related, some way or another, with digital world.
That change has broken the classical definition of a project’s success. In other words, the project has been transformed into a business management tool. It is not a matter of technicians and project managers anymore: there are great managers with the title of Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) or Strategy Director whose favourite projects are transformation projects.
In the classic model, a project was successful if it was delivered on time, within the expected budget and quality. Construction projects keep in accordance with this model.
However, nowadays it is very common that projects that meet those criteria to end up failing. For example, a business application which does not take off among users.
But, how is it possible that an effective and efficient project with enough quality does not fulfil the expectations?
The answer is in the current situation. Fifty years ago, the world was relatively stable. The project didn’t need to amaze to be successful: it was enough for it to get home to port. But, when reality is constantly changing, that port cannot be reached with a linear trajectory.
New definition of success
At this moment, things have changed and the new definition of success includes a new vertex: innovation
In the end, 21st century projects only ensure success if they allow to change things and start to work in another way. Innovation doesn’t need to be something of long reach: it is enough with the addition little value increases in order to qualify the organization in its change strategy.
Big Data analysis for the discovery of business opportunities is a field in which many incremental steps of this kind can me made towards an organizational model that doesn’t exist yet. It is not easy to quickly find the truth behind data: Big Data strategy will include very different transformation projects among which there are preliminary analysis, algorithm design, the design of new products based on identifiable market niches and the integration of those data with the existing CRM. All those projects are oriented to the generation of new opportunities.
For a graphic design agency, another good example would be the creation of a project for a client with a technology that had never been used before. This is also a transforming project as it creates a completely new capacity and competence.
This idea is equivalent to recognizing that change management should be absorbed as a corporate mission by any company that wants to maintain competitiveness in the market.
With the new definition of success, it is also possible to redefine with precision what we understand as a project in the era of digital transformation:
“The project is a set of factors which produce added value, whose delivery to the organization is scheduled in time for its realization”
There is also another consequence of this definition. The project has an end in time, but when the output is delivered, that innovative work has only just begun: you need to exploit the advantages.