Governance, culture, and leadership: the fundamentals of good project management


Bhadresh Sachania, Transformation Director at Agilisys, discusses why governance, culture and leadership are fundamental to good project management.

Tell us about your role with Agilisys and the work you are undertaking with the Agilisys Guernsey team?

I am a Senior Consultant at Agilisys and I’ve been working with public and private sector organisations for over 25 years delivering enterprise-scale IT change and transformation programmes. Recent roles have included leading transformation for Agilisys’ strategic partnerships with the City of London Corporation, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, and London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.

As Interim Head of Projects for Agilisys Guernsey I’m supporting the Projects Team to adopt new ways of working to enable the States of Guernsey’s vision for IT services – from initial strategy, to managing complex programmes and transitioning into a new service model. This has required a review of project governance, methodology and delivery whilst understanding the States’ vision and service requirements.

Good governance is all about doing the basics well. This involves implementing standard templates and processes as well as managing demand, capacity, and resourcing. This ensures we’re never over-committed or out of scope, which in turn means we are delivering what we have said we would do in line with our States customers’ needs.

This may all sound like common sense and, in truth, it is.

Project management is geared around visualising outcomes and working them backwards into a series of actionable steps. But equally important is the people aspect – acting as a translator between the States requirements and the IT Teams within Agilisys and leading the behaviour change necessary to embrace best practice and deliver the outcomes everyone wants to achieve.

Why is project management important?

Project management is extremely important in any organisation. In fact, according to the Project Management Institute (PMI), organisations that undervalue Project Management report an average of 50% more of their projects failing outright.

Without project management, organisations will find themselves trying to deliver with unclear objectives, a lack of resources and unrealistic plans. Operating in this way inevitably leads to high risk and poor quality, with unmet objectives delivered late and over budget.

To ensure that we are delivering all the right things in the right ways, project management is crucial. The benefits are two-fold:

  • Good governance provides assurance and return on investment for the customer in accordance with a properly defined scope
  • Capacity planning ensures demand is managed, which creates more fulfilled and motivated teams as no one is under-resourced or over-committed

Beyond this, culture plays a crucial role.

The team needs to think and act as one, sharing one vision and delivering an end-to-end solution, rather than working in siloes to deliver a disparate set of projects. We are working in partnership with our customer from requirements into delivery so that common business objectives and outcomes are achieved.

What does great Project Management look like?

All projects have a beginning, middle and end:

  1. Customer engagement – this ensures that project requirements and deliverables are fully understood and scoped. Having this strategic alignment is essential to clearly determine what outcomes and solutions are going to be achieved.
  2. Governance and methodology – following processes in order to provide end-to-end solutions. This requires practices such as resource and capacity management, commercial alignment, budget and risk management. Throughout this, communicating regularly with teams and managing stakeholders is vital.
  3. Project closure – the formal recognition of the completion of a project. This ensures that what we set out to deliver has been achieved and that all project management processes have been completed. Project closure will often involve budget closure, lessons learnt sessions and documentation.

Great project management is about following the above, but also understanding that the customer’s requirements can and will change – and we need to take into account that people need to be supported to adapt to change. That is why it is so important that teams work towards a common vision and are guided and supported by good governance.

What are the attributes of a great Head of Projects?

Critical elements of Project Management are leadership, communication and great people management. Listen, provide leadership, and coach your team. Stay calm and manage the inevitable pressure points that develop during all projects.

Problem-solving, being decisive and helping to cultivating the right culture and mindset across the organisation are also all key skills.

I always try to exercise right-to-left thinking: what does good look like, and how can we reverse engineer our desired outcome into an actionable set of steps and processes? Similarly, thinking macro to micro – when building a house, we have an architect before the bricklayer.

What advice would you offer to anyone thinking about a career in Project Management?

We all do project management in some form every day. In many regards, project management is about applying good common sense.

It really is a hugely rewarding role, and you can find a great deal of achievement in helping your customer and your organisation to achieve their outcomes.

Project management provides the opportunity to work and learn across a broad spectrum of disciplines within the organisation and within IT change. You’ll understand what things need to happen, when they occur and why they need to change – and you’ll also communicate with various teams including technical, commercial and procurement.

Enjoy the challenge as no two projects are the same. You will always be learning, adapting and leading. At the end, when you do a great job, you’ll be able to stand back and look at the outcomes and achievements you’ve accomplished – thanks to good governance and great team working… delivered on time and within budget.

Bhadresh Sachania has over 25 years' experience delivering enterprise-scale IT change and transformation programmes, and has worked across a number of Agilisys' strategic partnerships as Transformation Director. Bhadresh is passionate about delivering innovative business change and IT transformation to support public sector organisations achieve outcomes and future aspirations.

Bhadresh Sachania