Project Management

The Need for Speed: How to Help Your Teams Go Faster

14 Jun 2022
Sierra Hampton-Simmons
The pace of business is accelerating, requiring organizations to prioritize operational speed. But how can you help your teams step on the gas without sacrificing quality? In this post, Sierra Hampton-Simmons discusses the importance of upskilling employees with PMI products and offerings that can help them thrive and work smarter in our fast-paced world.

lights streaking in arc at night

Speed is the new business imperative. 

McKinsey reports that the primary reason organizations made changes during the COVID-19 pandemic was to react more quickly to fast-moving market developments. Respondents to a McKinsey survey cited speed more frequently than any other factor, including the need to reduce costs, boost productivity or engage more effectively with customers. 

Why this emphasis on speed? It’s simple, McKinsey says. Fast organizations significantly outperform slow organizations on a range of outcomes, including profitability, operational resilience, organizational health and growth. That perhaps explains why companies during the pandemic accelerated digitization of their customer, supply-chain and internal interactions by three to four years. And why they accelerated by seven years the addition of digitally enabled products to their portfolios. 

Still, speed cannot come at the expense of strategy. Even as they look to move faster, organizations need to revisit any rigid policies or gaps in strategic clarity that prevent them from making work more efficient and on point.  

All this has important implications for project professionals. What can project professionals do to support the need for greater operational speed and unwavering strategic focus while accelerating their delivery of successful projects?   

The answer, we believe, lies in strategic upskilling. Businesses must create an environment where employees have the mindset, skills, tools and customer understanding needed to make their work more efficient and realize positive organizational, environmental and societal impact. To do so, leaders should consider upskilling in three areas that have a special bearing on operational speed.  

Citizen Development 

The first area is technology deployment—specifically, capitalizing on the emerging citizen development movement. The pace of business today requires project teams to leverage technology to maximum advantage. Citizen development enables non-technical professionals with little to no coding experience to use low-code and no-code platforms to build and customize apps and software solutions.  

This has dual benefits from a speed perspective: It allows teams to create custom apps more quickly—without having to wait for support from often over-burdened IT organizations. And the custom apps teams develop help streamline business processes so they can operate more efficiently and provide strategic value more quickly. 

The PMI® Citizen Developer suite can help your teams deploy and scale citizen development responsibly and successfully, helping you innovate quickly while achieving faster returns on investment. Plus, the PMI Citizen Developer Foundation course takes just 90 minutes to complete, and team members who’ve used citizen development or low-code and no-code tools before can apply learnings from the course directly to their work. For example, citizen developers at the Salvation Army have implemented sophisticated workflow-based apps for both internal and external consumption in a safe way, ultimately accelerating automation by reducing development cycles by up to 80 percent. More so, the Salvation Army was able to empower non-technical people to build low-code and no-code applications to help the organization reduce the cost of development and maintenance of its applications while simplifying its application portfolio. Additional case studies that show the impact of citizen development on organizational speed can be found here.

Business Agility 

The second area of focus is around operational agility. All projects are unique, so utilizing a single, rigidly prescribed way of working can be inefficient and waste valuable time. Instead, project professionals need to be able to choose the specific way of working that’s best suited to the situation. But how to make the right choice?  

PMI’s agile offerings include a comprehensive tool kit for teams to learn different agile, traditional and hybrid project management practices. This allows teams to choose the best way of working for each project based on the strengths of their team members and the needs of their organization. Laying out the options in an organized way optimizes organizational effectiveness while enhancing strategic outcomes and speed to market. 

Our agile basics course can be completed in just a few hours, and teams with some agile experience can start using the course’s lessons very quickly. Check out a few of PMI’s agile case studies, particularly the Franklin Templeton case where leaders were tasked with delivering value to their business faster. With the help of PMI’s agile tool kit, Franklin Templeton implemented a multi-phased training approach, training its sales and marketing teams and key influencers from different areas and lines of business with the tool kit to serve as champions across the organization. In just six months, large-scale organizational shifts occurred including a reduction in time to market—from more than 800 days of production to a continuous delivery of new features for customers—and increased customer satisfaction. 

Wicked Problem Solving 

The final area of focus is around collaborative problem-solving. The problems faced by businesses today are increasingly complex and often lack straight-forward or intuitive solutions. Wicked Problem Solving® (WPS) empowers teams to find innovative ways to diagnose problems and visualize and identify solutions more quickly—bringing value to their customers faster and more consistently.  

Wicked Problem Solving courses and resources incorporate design thinking principles to break through creative obstacles to increase collaboration, uncover previously unseen opportunities and execute as a fully engaged team with maximum impact. The courses employ lots of guided materials that enable individuals to execute basic plays quickly, and teams to collaboratively build systems models to get everyone on the same page in minutes. Users from both small and large organizations, from in-team facilitators to senior leadership, have shared that WPS “is an easy-to-apply and practical collaborative approach… that can be applied and tailored to virtually any situation…” and have helped reduce the time required to complete projects. Read more WPS stories.

Together, these three products can help your teams enhance efficiency, improve operational speed and strengthen strategic focus. Organizations that leverage these products and gain speed through strategic upskilling will be better positioned to provide value to customers and enjoy the resulting business benefits: enhanced profitability, greater operational resilience and stronger long-term growth.

Sierra Hampton-Simmons Sierra Hampton-Simmons

Sierra Hampton-Simmons has nearly two decades of experience as an expert in Certification Management with a track record for transforming and developing lucrative brands to include relevant performance-based testing and training. She joined PMI in the fall of 2013 and currently serves as the Vice President, Products. Sierra leads the oversight, planning, and execution of the product life cycle for PMI’s solutions and services, including Certification, Professional Development, Standards & Publications, and the Brightline Initiative. Immediately prior to joining PMI, she was the Manager, Certification Operations at Cisco Systems, Inc. where she directed daily operations for a global development team in creating leading IT certification programs including the world-class CCNA and CCNP. Prior to Cisco, Sierra had a 12-year career with Citrix Education where she managed a team in design and development of the most advanced curricula and certifications for their global programs. Sierra also served as the President of the Performance Testing Council for three years after being an active member of their Board of Directors. Sierra is a graduate of Georgetown University with a Bachelor of Science in Japanese and International Business.