How to recognize a project management culture?

January 31, 2024


Does your organization have these signs of a project management culture? A project management software alone doesn’t mean that you have such a culture. Take this test. The signs also hold clues about how to build such a culture.

This is the second article in the three-part series on ‘Project Management Culture’.

If yours is a company that earns revenues by delivering projects to your customers -e.g. IT services – building a project management culture will benefit you in many ways.

Culture is palpable

An organization’s culture is not what you find written on displays and websites and talked about by its CEO. Merely having project management software doesn’t necessarily build such a culture.

It is palpable when you ‘walk around’. You notice it in the way people respond to unexpected situations, customers’ demands, and appeals for help. It is also evident in the way decisions are made.

What are the day-to-day signs that tell you that you have a project management culture?  

Can do, will do

A can do, will do attitude can be easily spotted. Your people don’t need pep talks. Instead, they need to be made aware of the downsides of doing too much! You need to build guardrails to channel their efforts. For example, in their enthusiasm, they deliver much more than required by the contract delaying other projects. 

Problems as opportunities

Do your teams pounce on the problems head on? Do your people consider difficulties and problems as opportunities to show off their talents? If yes, they will often present you with an opportunity to earn extra revenue! Talented people take pride in putting their talents to test and pass the test with flying colors. 

There is a downside to it, though. This very ability to solve problems can encourage leaving too much to the end of a project and taking too many risks. 

But if you find your project managers and senior tech people engaged in the following, you have your risks covered.

Fetish for granular work breakdown structures

If your project managers and senior tech people spend quality time defining work breakdown structures (WBS)  in such a way that individual tasks can be completed in hours and days rather than weeks, it is a good sign.

Such tasks can be easily allocated and tracked. It will be easy to find resources with an optimum level of skills for tasks defined this way.  Such detailing of WBS also exposes unknowns and risks. 

A habit of trying out things and testing

Granular WBS mentioned above exposes the unknowns and the risks in project execution. If your people are often engaged in trying out things (prototyping) the unknowns become known and risks get mitigated. 

If your project managers and tech people insist on providing resources and time for prototyping and testing in their project plans it is a very good sign!

Notepads always open

This bookkeeping-type activity may seem mundane and boring. It apparently doesn’t sit well with the ‘can do, will do’ attitude but it is a very vital sign of a project management culture.

Successful projects involve hundreds of big and small things to be taken care of. Any missout can be costly. Good project managers and their teams are always on top of those granular tasks. People in such teams have their notepads always open.

(An update in one of the popular meetings and collaboration software will bring automatic note-taking and sharing. It underscores the importance of meeting notes and task lists in project execution.)


Project teams are engaged in shootouts about WBS, technical pros and cons, and the possible risks. If such shootouts take place in the early phases of projects, they bring robustness to your project planning. 

The twin habits of shootouts and prototyping feed into each other.

Costs are visible

Costs of resources and other inputs are visible to all in the respective project teams. Costs incurred to date and projected costs are also visible.  When this happens the costs get factored into every major decision.

Project managers behave as CEOs of their projects

Like a CEO, they keep tabs on not just short-term allocations and deliverables but also keep in sight the value their projects bring to the customers. They are equally determined to protect project margins.  Like great CEOs, they prefer the word ‘AND’ to the word ‘OR’.

Do you see the above signs?

If the above experiences are very common in your organization, you have a great project management culture! Congratulations!

If your organization isn’t there yet, how to build such a project management culture?  We shall look for the answers in the next article.



Building Project Management Culture -Key to Improving Project Margins


Project managers as CEOs of their projects



ProductDossier - The makers of TouchBase PPM solution, that is configured specifically to the needs of your industry and organizational standards & processes. TouchBase is designed uniquely for external customer projects, new product development, and internal initiatives. TouchBase supports multiple project management approaches such as predictive, agile, and hybrid. TouchBase digitizes your project management landscape, offers holistic solution to your project management needs, and integrates with your existing enterprise applications such as ERPs, CRMs, Accounting, and others - to deliver one version of project management truth!