4 Ways to Build a Strong Project Management Culture

Billy Guinan
By | Updated November 29, 2023 | 15 min read
4 Ways to Build a Strong Project Management Culture

Key Take Aways

  • Organizational culture is the personality of a company and influences how employees work and interact with each other.
  • A strong project management culture is essential for companies to realize the many benefits of projects, such as lowering operating costs, improving efficiencies, and fulfilling strategic objectives.
  • Four ways to cultivate a successful project management culture in your company are:
    • Pick your project management approach
    • Pick your project management tool
    • Measure and report on performance
    • Get leadership involved
  • The article also highlights the importance of aligning all projects with strategic goals and investing in project processes to achieve more timely and predictable outcomes.

In business, the success of projects directly reflects the organizational culture in which they are executed. Projects are not just tasks to be completed but opportunities for strategic advancement and innovation. However, their potential is only fully realized within a culture that embraces robust project management practices.

This article explores the symbiotic relationship between organizational culture and project management. We’ll discuss why a culture that supports project initiatives is critical to realizing the full benefits of those projects.

Moreover, we’ll provide four practical strategies to cultivate a project management culture that can become a cornerstone of your company’s success.

As we navigate the intricacies of what makes a company’s culture conducive to effective project management, you’ll discover how to align your team’s efforts with the broader narrative of your mission.

By the end, you’ll have a clearer understanding of how to foster a culture that values project management and excels at it, ensuring your projects contribute positively to your company’s objectives.

What is organizational culture?

Organizational culture describes the personality of a company and influences how employees work and interact with each other.

Culture helps an organization reach strategic goals by encouraging desired behaviors, attitudes, and working methods.

Although difficult to define, organizational culture typically encompasses:

  • Consistent, Observable Behaviors: The routine actions that set the standard for what is expected within the company.
  • Work Ethics: The values that guide employees’ approach to their work, such as commitment and integrity.
  • Codes of Conduct: The formal rules that define professional behavior and establish workplace standards.
  • Incentives and Reward Systems: The structures that recognize and incentivize employee performance in alignment with company goals. A strong governance culture is essential for project success, as it reinforces management practices that align with the organization’s strategic objectives.
  • A Shared Sense of Purpose and Action: The common understanding of the company’s mission that motivates collective effort.
  • Leadership Styles and Management Practices: Research shows that leaders’ methods to guide, influence, and inspire their teams can significantly affect project outcomes.
  • Communication Patterns and Information Flow: How information is shared within the organization, affecting transparency and collaboration.
  • Decision-Making Processes: Organizational culture significantly shapes decision-making processes, reflecting a company’s values and strategic priorities. A recent study highlights the impact of culture on project planning, underscoring the need for alignment between projects and organizational values.
  • Adaptability and Response to Change: The organization’s capacity to adjust to new challenges and market conditions.
  • Employee Engagement and Participation: The level of employee involvement in and enthusiasm for their work and the company’s vision.


Culture constantly evolves, making it hard to change through a formal program or effort. That said, there are some steps you can take to make positive changes to culture to support your project management, which we’ll cover later on.

Why is organizational culture important to projects?

Organizational culture is the framework a project manager and team must work in. It’s the bedrock that supports all project-related activities and decisions.

All elements of a project – from processes to leadership, management styles, communication, risk tolerance, and project request management – are influenced by cultural norms in your company.

A shared belief in the value of project management and a willingness to invest in project processes are critical to a strong project management culture.

This is corroborated by a study on organizational culture and project management methodology in the financial industry, highlighting the impact of organizational culture on project activities.

Impact on performance and efficiency

A strong project management culture based on clear communication is pivotal for performance and efficiency. Research in the MDPI journal Buildings supports this, showing that organizations with a supportive and robust project management culture are more successful in meeting their goals.

Furthermore, they are significantly more efficient financially, wasting 13 times less money than low-performing organizations. This efficiency stems from a culture that values clear goals, streamlined processes, and practical resource utilization, ensuring that projects are completed and done with optimal use of time and finances.

Culture’s role in project selection

Culture is a crucial point of differentiation between these types of organizations. It also affects the types of projects executed by a company. Ideally, all projects should be aligned with strategic goals.

A strong project culture often reflects the basic assumptions and cultural aspects that drive a company, leading to a selection of projects that resonate with both internal stakeholders and external customers.

The motivational power of cultural alignment

When employees see their role in the broader narrative of the company, they are more engaged and motivated. Understanding the significance of their work and its impact on the company’s success fosters a sense of belonging and purpose.

This alignment with the company’s culture and goals drives employees to invest more deeply in their projects, boosting morale and productivity.

4 Ways to Build a Strong Project Management Culture

As we noted above, changing organizational culture is notoriously difficult. Too often, organizations try to change everything at once and fail to translate the new vision into practical steps for their employees.

It’s worth remembering that culture is about doing, behaviors, and actions. Start with a step if you want to make a lasting change to improve project outcomes. People tend to act their way into new behaviors before changing their mindsets.

Let’s look at four practical ways to build a strong project management culture.

1. Pick your project management approach

I’m sure you can think of many elements of project management you’d like to change within your organization! You need to be rigorous and realistic when picking a behavior. Introducing a standardized approach to project management is an excellent place to start.

Often, individuals tasked with managing a project – including project leaders who need formal training in project management abilities – will develop their own project rules. This can lead to a lack of consistency in project execution across the organization.

Adapting to organizational needs

Without a straightforward approach, individuals will get creative and develop their ways of working, leading to multiple styles in one organization!

Below is a project management spectrum we use with our customers.

As depicted, some projects require a lighter touch, while others need more rigorous project management processes. The choice will depend on project maturity levels within your organization, the number of projects, the complexity of projects, the duration of projects, etc.

When picking your approach, you should consider how projects are currently managed and what practices should be kept, such as weekly team meetings or collaborative planning sessions.

Don’t make changes just for the sake of change.

2. Pick your project management tool

Next, you’ll need to make it easy to translate the new process into actionable steps for your team. Update relevant project management templates and software as required or find new software is required. For instance, our Microsoft 365 project management software can integrate seamlessly into your workflow.

Focus on practical, role-based training to help your team understand how the software supports their role. The new solution must be easier to use or, in some cases, worth extra effort for team members.

Leveraging existing infrastructure

Many organizations worldwide are already using Microsoft 365 for productivity and collaboration. BrightWork 365 integrates the best Microsoft 365 apps (Power Automate for workflows, Power Apps for Project Management, Teams for collaboration, etc.) into project management templates.

These templates can be a practical starting point for individual projects. The pre-designed project sites are easily used and mapped to a suitable project management process.

Streamlining portfolio management

Managing across different portfolios is a breeze with tools like Microsoft 365 and Power Platform project management, as it features everything you need, including templates, dashboards, and project request management.

3. Measure and report on performance

Demonstrating tangible business and project outcome improvements is critical to driving new behaviors. People need to know that their efforts contribute positively to projects and the organization; otherwise, they will become disillusioned with your leadership.

Identifying key project metrics

Pick a few project metrics to improve with your new process and report on these on your project site. Does your team struggle to track tasks and meet deadlines? Do issues fall through the cracks as no one knows how to report a problem?

Are documents stored in multiple locations, leading to confusion? Regular project review meetings can help address these issues by fostering a concerted effort toward project success.

Demonstrating impact through reporting

Report on these project metrics during weekly team meetings to demonstrate impact quickly. The SharePoint Project Management Template ships with valuable reports, including:

  • Task Completion: Tracking and reporting on task progress and completion rates.
  • Issue Resolution: Monitoring how quickly and effectively issues are identified and resolved.
  • Workload Management: Reporting on open, overdue, upcoming, and unassigned work to ensure balanced distribution.
  • Metric Tiles: Visual representations of critical metrics for at-a-glance insights.
  • Project Status Updates: Regular updates on the overall health and progress of the project. These reports can be significantly enhanced using Microsoft Teams apps for project management, facilitating communication and collaboration.


Communicating value to the company

It would help if you also considered how improvements in these areas add value to the company – more projects finished on time, increased stakeholder satisfaction, and effective teams. These benefits will likely become apparent after a project is completed.

Sharing post-project success

Set a reminder to get the outcomes and share them with the team and company a few weeks after the completion date. Send an email, share an update on your intranet, talk to people at meetings – just get the word out!

4. Get leadership involved

People tend to mimic the behavior of individuals or groups who influence an organization. If your team sees senior management acting differently from you regarding project management, they’ll no longer follow your efforts.

Find someone to act as a “Project Management Champion” to secure senior management buy-in. This champion should be well-versed in project management critical success factors that can drive your project management culture forward.

This person often plays a critical aspect in shaping the project management culture and can influence the project leadership team to adopt principles of project management that steer away from potential project failures.

Project management on Microsoft 365

Watch a demo of BrightWork 365 project and portfolio management templates for Microsoft 365, Power Platform, and Teams.

How BrightWork Can Help You Implement a Project Management Culture

At BrightWork, our approach to implementing successful project management in your organization is encapsulated in the “Start, Evolve philosophy.” This method encourages beginning with a manageable scope of project management practices that allow teams to achieve early success.

Facilitating team success with measured processes

Start as many projects as you want, with the right amount of project management – arguably a smaller amount to begin with – to help your project teams experience success.

This ensures teams gain visibility and control without being overwhelmed by processes, setting the stage for the gradual evolution of their project management practices.

BrightWork 365: A tool for evolutionary growth

This approach is delivered in the BrightWork 365 product, which offers project, portfolio, and request management templates. It also extends to the way we support you with our deployment assistance.

“Start, Evolve” is an integral part of our 3D deployment approach, utilizing tools like Microsoft Teams for project management to foster communication and collaboration.

The 3D deployment approach: Design, deliver, deploy

The 3D Deployment approach is based on the following three principles:

  • Design: Utilizing collaborative project management best practices.
  • Deliver: Beginning with configurable templates that cater to various project needs.
  • Deploy: Offering on-demand and as-needed training to ensure effective adoption.


Our 3D Deployment Process (Design, Deliver, Deploy) is a clear, transparent, and practical change management process focused on your needs. It is designed to help you implement collaborative project and portfolio management effectively.


Organizational culture is the cornerstone of how teams collaborate and succeed in project management. A supportive culture is crucial for growth and the successful delivery of projects.

This article has outlined four key strategies to build a robust project management culture: choosing the right approach and tools, measuring performance, and involving leadership. Embracing a tool like Brightwork 365 can be a significant step towards this cultural transformation in project management.

BrightWork’s “Start, Evolve” philosophy, complemented by the 3D Deployment Process, provides a practical roadmap for cultural transformation in project management. It emphasizes starting with small, manageable steps and gradually enhancing project management practices.

Remember that fostering a project management culture is an ongoing process that requires dedication and a readiness to adapt to new methods. By committing to these principles, your organization can achieve its project goals more efficiently and with greater team engagement.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2013 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Project management on Microsoft 365

Watch a demo of BrightWork 365 project and portfolio management templates for Microsoft 365, Power Platform, and Teams.

Billy Guinan
Billy Guinan

BrightWork Demand Generation Manager • Marketing

Working with a range of B2B SaaS project portfolio management software for nearly 15 years, Billy specializes in best practices and methods of how to leverage Microsoft 365, Teams, Power Platform, and SharePoint to make project management easier. His focus areas are Collaborative Project Management and Template-Driven Project Management on the Microsoft platform. Beyond all things BrightWork, Billy enjoys reading, trying to golf, and walking his pug named Nova.

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