Taking the time to understand your organization’s best practices in project management is one of the most powerful demonstrations that your teams mean business.

Last week, we shared some of our thoughts on the power of Organizational Project Management, and how a holistic approach to portfolios, programs, and projects can empower the organization. Indeed, our take on driving project success across the enterprise hinges on just that: team members across the organization must be empowered to act on behalf of projects, no matter what their role, from executives, to managers, to project team members.

But just saying that project people must be able to act is mostly bluster. Even if your intentions are in the right place, being able to deliver results comes from orchestrated activity against a plan. It becomes a journey of exceeding the bar with project successes–provided you understand what that bar looks like.

Thanks to the diligent efforts of the Project Management Institute through the OPM3® ProductSuite, and the input of project managers around the world, we are seeing more of what that bar looks like in the form of Best Practices. Within OPM3, these best practices are a carefully curated set of 557 measures of successful project activity which set forth how the work of projects is done in a generic project setting. But the real magic of utilizing best practices comes through careful focus on your project setting.

In case you missed it, I’ll say it again: the keyword here is focus. Few organizations have the need for self assessment against every single one of the 557 recommended best practices. The beauty of the approach is that you don’t have to be weighed down with needless administration; your challenge is to define the practices that best measure project, program, and portfolio success across your organization, and measure on-going results against them. You, your project managers, your portfolio managers, and your teams know where they can improve, and where they shine, so ask them – whether from the list of 557 or not, if your teams are thinking about it, it is likely a practice worth measuring.

The result of your work will be a model for project improvement that addresses the whole organization. It provides a baseline for standardization, a model for measurement and control, and a path for improvement over time. And because your teams are developing the metrics, you will also be developing the buy-in that you will need for long-term attention and success.

At Cadence, we work with project partners around the world to help them define and implement their own model for standardization, measurement, control, and improvement. It is no secret that project offices all over are being confronted with the crude reality of our global economy, and are being taken to task to defend their place in operations: is the continued investment in a project management office at your organization worth the return in projects completed? Or is it just more administrative overhead, hindering the real work of projects more than driving it?

Don’t worry, you don’t have to answer out loud. But if you find yourself shaking your head in the negative, consider deeply the role of your project office and how you can take the lead in delivering your own best practices, measuring success, and driving improvement from within. Demonstrating such an active role in project education, measurement, and improvement is a quick way to demonstrate your project office is not just valuable, but too valuable to lose.