Seven years into my career and I’ve only just mastered the art of explaining what I do
By Marilyn Fernandes, Corporate Reputation and Change Communications Specialist, RedWizard
When that dreaded question comes up: “What do you mean when you say you’re a marketing communications professional?” or worse still when I get a funny, ‘I’m-nodding-but-don’t-really-know-what-that-means’ look. Granted it is a relatively newer function, when you compare it to the likes of HR or admin or even marketing.
In fact, I’ve been guilty on a number of occasions of sparing myself from that odd look I get by suggesting corporate communications is similar to marketing – not cool, I know! But then one day I looked at myself in the mirror (ashamed) and thought to myself, if I don’t take the time in casual settings to educate my friends and family on the importance of corporate communications, what good am I really doing?! (Okay, I’m being a tad bit dramatic here, but go with it…) Especially, when you look at the statistics behind companies that have invested in this role:
Companies with highly engaged employees can improve their operating income by 19.2% over a 12-month period.
Businesses with effective communication practices were more than 50% more likely to report employee turnover levels below the industry average, according to a study by Watson Wyatt.
Productivity improves by up to 25% in organizations with connected employees.
28% reported poor communication as the primary cause of failing to deliver a project within its original time frame, according to a survey by the Computing Technology Industry Association.
Despite these very telling statistics, I have come across plenty of companies and C-suite executives alike – both agency and client-side – that have viewed professional communication services as a nice-to-have but not a vital part of a business’s transformation journey. That is until I came across RedWizard – a boutique consultancy delivering business transformation for clients through their connected services in portfolio, programme and project management.
In today’s business landscape where change is the only constant, I would go as far as to say that RedWizard is a double threat. Not only does the company embed communications into every bespoke solution it delivers for its clients, but it also happens to be one of the few PMOs globally to invest in a dedicated communications specialist – a role often rolled into a bullet point on a project manager’s list of duties.
As that dedicated specialist, I thought I’d share a snapshot of what it’s like being a marketing communications and change management consultant at RedWizard.
For starters, I have always had a seat at the table – right from initial client engagement meetings to discuss a client’s ‘pain points’ and future goals and ambitions to solutioning, executing and finally through to continuous improvement checkpoints. This is a stark contrast from the norm, where the communications specialist is usually brought in as an afterthought and told to action a list of ‘communication-related activities’ to support senior leadership plans.
While business leaders know their business better than anyone else, keeping the communications specialist on the fringes means that knowledge is contained within four walls of a boardroom. As a result, the company’s employees, or in other words the key catalysts for making the leadership’s vision for the business come to life are left out of the equation, with a communications specialist having to disseminate uninspired, one-way driven messages of a transformation journey doomed for failure. To quote Mari Smith, thought leader and premier Facebook marketing expert…
Content is King, but engagement is Queen, and the lady rules the house!
RedWizard has the foresight to understand this. By having a seat at the table, I’ve been able to fully understand the business needs and ‘pain points’ of an organization, get a sense of its culture and on the basis of that advise C-suite executives on strategic communication investments that tangibly deliver value and support their business agenda.
As a communications consultant for RedWizard, I work very closely with the company’s data analyst, Peter, to support our clients on their transformation journey. In a business landscape where different departments/functions operate in silos, RedWizard here again stands out as an advocate for continuous improvement. By working closely with Peter, we are able to jointly identify the right data we need to collect and analyse to ensure communication initiatives continue to drive value for our clients in conjunction with their ever-changing business needs.
In fact, my days at RedWizard have me working with people from multiple workstreams – which is a rarity for most marketing communications consultants. Beyond the obvious benefits of fostering an environment of knowledge-sharing and collaboration, RedWizard’s vision to bring together key specialist skills across communications, data & analytics, process management, governance and portfolio, programme and project management truly makes its offering a vital piece of the puzzle in an organization’s business transformation journey.
Don’t get me wrong, pushing boundaries and staying ahead of the times is no easy feat, but it certainly keeps things exciting and is the reason I wake up each morning, ready to conquer a new challenge with my trusted RedWizard team by my side. And with that, I’m off for a cuppa!
If you’d like to chat more about our marketing communications services at RedWizard Consulting, feel free to drop me a line.References:
We’re RedWizard, the missing piece.
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Big changes in programme and project management have sparked conversation, but what impact have they had? Has anything really changed since the 90s?
By Jools Barrow-Read, Portfolio & Programme Management (PMO) Consultant, RedWizard
The programme management office (PMO) sets its stall on being a dynamic feature of the project landscape, continually evolving to current times. It’s a badge we wear with pride. From the Scientific Management Method developed by Frederick Taylor about a century ago to the “institutionalisation” of our professional standards in the 90s, our history is a long and happy timeline of original thought and idea development. We might vary by name and in function, but we can always be trusted to support organizations through the turbulence of ever-changing conditions.
If we asked you what had really changed since the 1990s, what would you say? Are we, as an industry, pushing hard toward becoming a hybrid function as we move into the fourth industrial revolution? Or, are we so caught up with identity and acronyms that we’re forgetting about the one thing that matters—delivering real value?
These, and many other questions have been left unanswered, so we’re placing a few under the spotlight.
Evolution as manifesto: A potted history of the PMO
You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been, as the saying goes. And one thing’s for sure, PMO has come a long way in the past 100 years.
So, what significant changes were made during this time?About a century ago – scientific management method
Frederick Taylor introduced the idea of increasing the number and complexity of projects managed by single organizations.
1930s – first project office
Possibly the first recorded use of the “project office” expression, developed by the U.S. Air Corps (Crawford & Cabanis-Brewin, 2010).
1950s – US military complex missile systems PMO
This PMO realised the benefits of centralising funding into work packages instead of separate components. So, the concept of improving budget predictions, creating a standard phased planning approach and identifying non-strategic initiatives before fund allocation was born.
1980s – Exported to construction and IT industries as a result of computer tech advancement
Advancements in technology allowed the PMO concept to roll out across the construction and IT industries, as well as others.
1990s professional associations mobilised / industry standards met
Professional associations and project management certifications gained traction and became recognised industry standards: Project Management Institute (PMI), PRINCE2 and the International Project Management Association (IPMA). The need for a standardised and coordinated approach gained momentum to improve the efficiency of project delivery and eliminate delays and overspend.
The 1990s, the decade that never ended
Like any type of evolution, each PMO advancement has stood on the shoulders of its predecessors. In the ‘70s, technology made the creation of project management software possible, thanks to Oracle. With the ‘80s came affordable PCs for project work; the ‘90s gave us project management degrees and specific methodologies for standardising PMOs.
Now we are here, a couple of decades into the 21st century. And… it’s amazing how little has changed.
For the most part, today’s PMO is still considered an administrative reporting function in many organizations, following a specific methodology, supporting change and transformation by following a set of standard processes aimed at increasing efficiency–process driven, inflexible, lacking passion and fundamentally losing sight of the bigger picture.
Forward-thinking organizations understand that mature PMOs can be a trusted change partner, an enabler, a strategic think tank of transformation and innovation! However, not all PMOs have reached this maturity level and there is still confusion around what a mature PMO should look like.
For many, evolution seems to have come to a halt, and that’s why most PMOs fail within the first four years.
Today’s PMO can, and should, go much further!
With many PMOs failing, it’s time to stop talking about methodology, standards and governance, and start talking about what really matters—VALUE. Here are a few areas to focus on in order to ensure that your PMO is evolving and becoming a ‘mature’ PMO asset that is valued.Build relationships
The difference between a mature and an immature PMO lies in the quality of its relationships. Gain trust by connecting and listening to your key stakeholders—earn their trust and support.
Move away from producing lengthy reports and don’t deliver problems—deliver solutions.
Being innovative requires a bit of creative thinking, and you need to be inspired in order to think creatively. How? Research, learn and develop your skills. If you remain passionate about what you do, it’s easier to deliver innovative solutions that make a difference.
If there’s a mantra here it is this: PMO is not all about the process! Put yourself in the shoes of the organization, understand the pressure they’re under and where the pain points are for them. What’s most important to the business? How can you go the extra mile?
Traditional PPM roles and structures have to change. Bureaucrats will be banished. Zombie project management offices (PMOs) will be slain– Robert A. Handler, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner 2019
Where are we now, and where do we want to be?
We’re standing on the brink of the fourth 4th industrial revolution that will fundamentally change the way live, work and relate to one another. Technology-led innovation is constantly opening doors that were previously closed, making the impossible possible and forcing us to rethink our approach to strategy development.
The big question now is where we, the people, fit into the organisations of the future.
No one can predict exactly what life will look like in 2024, but there are a few things we do know. Our technology will be a thousand times more powerful than in 2004 and a million times more powerful than in 1994. So change of all kinds will happen exponentially faster than it ever has before.– Forbes 2018
We’re not sugar-coating the future and for sure, the ‘mature’ PMO faces challenges going forward, with data security and integration being top of the list. That’s undeniable. But for the immature PMO, these concerns are moot. The key takeaway is that to even survive, PMOs need to be flexible, innovative, strategically focused and aligned. Most importantly—they need to create long-lasting relationships, built on trust.
We’re RedWizard, the missing piece.
For insights, expert advice, and general PMO chatter, follow us!