I have been reading over the last few weeks a number of blog articles concentrating on the popular question “Why is the Project and Programme Management profession so lacking in professionalism and capability ?”. Well I have to say having been involved in a Project / Programme Management recruitment programme for one of the big 5 for a year I was surprised to find some not so obvious answers to this question.
To start with our interview and selection statistics were as follows:-
About 25% of applicants failed to answer a standard domain knowledge assessment questionnaire and only 5% of those that passed this part of the interview and selection process actually passed the following scenario based interview where they were required to put together a realistic and achievable Project Management Delivery Solution. The scenario interviews were in my view and my colleagues a really eye opener and perhaps explained why so many IT projects fail each year.
I just read this morning of a land mark legal case between BSkyB and EDS which is set to change the way IT Projects are run in the future.
The Technology and Construction Court found in favour of BSKYB following the company’s five-year battle with EDS over a failed customer relationship management (CRM) system. The case is the most expensive legal dispute in the history of the IT Industry, costing both sides an estimated £40m each. I have to say with 70% IT Project failure rates (please see CHAOS survey ) it is a surprise we have not seen a case like this earlier. It is extremely rare for an IT supplier to be accused of fraudulent misrepresentation and even rarer for a supplier to be found guilty of it. Make no mistake this is a landmark decision which in my view will give rise to suppliers reviewing sales techniques (no longer will project managers be a salesman’s flunky), contractual arrangements and what is presented to customers in terms of their capabilities, services and products. Oversell and a supplier’s days could be numbered.
Most firms in 2010 are predicting an increase in IT expenditure, most of this extra spend is to be focused on virtualisation, e-business and customer relationship management systems.
This prediction was made by a recent Accenture /Economist intelligence Unit survey of 500 executives in the US and Europe. The survey indicates that UK and Ireland are the most optimistic; with 63% of business leaders predicting IT spend increases during 2010.
A close blogging buddy Carpefactum recently asked me to participate in a telephone conference call with a number of MBA students in the US. Whilst eating some wonderful apple pie at my local coffee shop I listed the possible questions I thought I might get asked, and formulated my answers to them. Within this list some ‘killer’ questions (often asked by newbie managers) leapt out at me, and right at the top was :-
How do you manage Projects? > $25 million? hah
This seems a simple enough question. Surely the answer is:-
Deliver successful projects Stupid!
Well this is not quite true. Most Project /Programme Managers at some point in their career discover, often too late, that the best project /programme managers rarely get the chance to manage projects or programmes set-up for success. It’s the newbie /lightweight Project and Programme managers who usually get to run these kinds of projects and programmes (the successful ones). Sad but true!
I have lost count of how many enthusiastic project /programme managers I have mentored over the years who have suddenly realised the truth. That being successful in Project /Programme Management is not “the joy of giving birth” but being the “best funeral director in town”. Many feel disillusionment and suffer burnout when they realise this awkward home truth.