Here’s the problem:
Getting a set of diverse, busy executives to all adopt the same project management approach is a tough feat. Everyone wants to work their own way, and getting the leaders to buy into a project management approach, let alone a specific tool, is not easy. I struggled to get our top executives to even log into Salesforce when they requested sales data. So, with that said, some considerations:
1. Keep it very simple
The more complexity we can eliminate, the better. I’d avoid buzzwords and any complicated system that requires leaders to change their workflow and learn a new UI. While it may sound old-school, a lot of teams work best in a good old shared Google Spreadsheet. It doesn’t have fancy reporting and metrics, but everyone will actually use it.
2. Start with MBOs (objectives)
Regardless of which method you use, ultimately this comes down to defining what the objectives are and tracking progress towards completing them. On a cross functional executive team, the data sources of how to track success will be very disparate (e.g. CRM, marketing automation system, people’s heads). Most important is ensuring that every leader understand what the goals are and how success is measured. They’ll collaborate as needed to achieve if they’re A players.
3. Capture status updates in writing
Whether it’s a spreadsheet or a fully featured project management tool, progress must be tracked. Sometimes this will be done automatically in each of the disparate systems mentioned above. Well resourced companies may use business intelligence (BI) tools to visualize that data. But assuming that isn’t available, I come back to keep it simple. I use my own tool, Weekly Update, to keep our team aligned on our top objectives and blockers each week.
4. Give leaders space to do things their own way
This comes back to the original problem outlined above… it’s tough to mandate a project management system and unify across a cross functional leadership team. This is certainly specific to each team, but I recommend giving each leader the space to do things his/her own way, and never micromanage. As long as we’ve standardized communication (i.e. through weekly meetings and updates), the execution methodology should be up to each leader.
5. Demand accountability
Regardless of the approach, leaders must be held accountable for making progress and delivering results. All of the tools mentioned in these answers can be beneficial to do this, as long as we are tracking progress in writing and the CEO is reviewing it at least every week to provide feedback.