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.
Last week I had a coffee with an old friend and we got onto the subject of P3O and how important this APMG qualification is currently and how overtime it is only going to become more important as the numbers of organisations setting-up or considering the set-up of Project Office’s, Programme Office’s or Portfolio Office’s (P3O) increases.
The growing problem at the moment is a shortage of experienced PO professionals available for recruitment combined with the lack of a comprehensive best practice book / methodology to make these ambitions a reality. In my view such a book should try to answer the following questions:-
- How to write a PO business case?
- How to sell a PO business case?
- How to design a PO?
- What are the different PO models together with their Pros and Cons?
- Are there any PO methodologies.?
- What are the different PO processes and sub processes?
- How do you embed PO processes?
- Strategic issues surrounding PO success and failure?
- What really world PO cases studies are around to support answers to the above?
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.
It is more and more common these days for Project Managers and Programme Managers to act as salesmen once the initial cost estimation and statement of work has been produced. Increasingly client partners and sales consultants insist on such professionals getting involved in the sales process. Many of the reasons for this are obvious, but some are less so:-
- Add credibility to the chosen technical /delivery solution offered to the client.
- Assist the sales professionals in reshaping the technical and delivery solution to meet the more specific and changing needs of the potential client.
- To make sure the Project /Programme Managers colours are “nailed to the post”. This means that the costings and the delivery solution are firmly recognised as coming from the Project /Programme Management Professional and not the Sales Consultant. This takes the sales professional off the hook should the project or programme not achieve its deliver objectives. Therefore strongly advise “don’t lie to fit in with demanding sales people”. Remember, they will trade commission for your friendship at the drop of a hat. If they didn’t they would not be doing their job properly. You’re the gate keeper, and as a gate keeper professional ethics are very important if you want to keep your job and reduce your stress levels.
So, when taking part in an important Sales Pitch for an IT Project what are my top ten tips :-
During a recent trip to the British Library I thought I would take a quick look at the recently published Standish CHAOS Survey to see if we are improving our project and programme delivery failure rates.
I have to say the results of my investigation were very positive:-
Note – In 2000 in the US, the spend on IT application development is approximately $250 billion and represents some 175000 projects. The average cost of a development project for a large company is $2,322,000; for a medium company, it is $1,331,000; and for a a small company, it is $434,000