Some ideas for making project management effective and efficient in 2016

SuccessIt’s a New Year and by now most of us will have failed to keep our first set of New Year resolutions! But it’s not too late to re-focus on doing our projects better (particularly in my part of the world where summer holidays are coming to an end and business life is starting to pick up). Nothing in the list below is new or revolutionary; they are just good practices that help make projects successful.

Most projects that fail are set up to fail by the organization and senior management (see:  Project or Management Failures?).  80% of projects that fail don’t have a committed and trained project sponsor. An effective project sponsor will:

  1. Give clear project objectives.
  2. Help craft a well‐defined project scope.
  3. Remove obstacles that affect project success.
  4. Mediate disagreements with other senior stakeholders.
  5. Support the project manager.

The role of the project or program sponsor is outlined in: WP1031 Project & Program Sponsorship.

Customers or end‐users are critically important to the success of ‘their project’. Unfortunately there is an extreme shortage of ‘intelligent customers’.  A ‘good customer’ will:

  1. Help refine the project scope – no one gets it 100% correct first time.
  2. Convey requirements fully and clearly
    (see: WP 1071 Defining Requirements).
  3. Avoid changing their minds frequently.
  4. Adhere to the change management process.

Every project team needs expertise – this is frequently provided by external experts. Subject‐matter experts should:

  1. Highlight common pitfalls.
  2. Help rather than hinder decision making.

The work of the project is done by ‘the team’. A committed and motivated project team will:

  1. Buy into the project’s objectives.
  2. Identify all of the required tasks and ensure the schedule is complete and accurate.
  3. Provide accurate estimates.
  4. Report progress and issues truthfully.
  5. Deliver their commitments.
  6. Focus on achieving the intended benefits
    (see: WP 1023 Benefits and Value).

Finally, the project manager

  1. Recognises that there is no “I” in project and works with the team and stakeholder community to create a successful outcome
  2. Resolves issues and risks that may arise from the 18 items above quickly, efficiently and effectively.

Making Projects WorkAlmost all of the items listed require action by people other than the project manager – this highlights the fact that projects are done by people for people and the key skill required by every project manager is the ability to influence, motivate and lead stakeholders both in the project team and in the wider stakeholder community.

For more on Making Projects Work see:

3 responses to “Some ideas for making project management effective and efficient in 2016

  1. Hi Pat,
    While I agree with you that better project sponsorship is an essential component of “project success”, that is only part of the story.

    As evidenced by PMI’s major changes to their PMBoK Guide 2016, is tacit admittance that what PMI was advocating didn’t work, a fact that many of us have been pointing out for years.

    The model PMI seems to be emulating in their PMBoK 2016 is the Total Cost Management Framework (TCMF) from AACE, which was originally developed by Diamond Shamrock or Esso back in the 1950’s and is still in use today by all the major oil companies.

    In this fully INTEGRATED model, asset managers, portfolio managers (both project and asset portfolios), operations (programs) and project managers are all “actors” on the same stage.

    Explained another way, there are three “actors” in this “play” and all three of them have roles to play and until or unless all three of them are integrated and choreographed, then project management as a delivery system will never work as efficiently or effectively as it can or should. The essence of this has been captured in the Guild of Project Controls Body of Knowledge

    Bottom line- when we add together asset plus portfolio plus program plus project management into one all encompassing theory of everything, haven’t we come full circle back to “management is management is management” just as Peter Drucker explained to us way back in 1976 and Henry Mintzberg reaffirmed in 2009?

    Dr. PDG, Guangzhou, China

    • More likely ‘the management of project management is management’ and the oversight of management is governance. I can’t comment of the 6th Edition of the PMBOK as yet, but the world is changing.

      • Hmmmm……. While I do agree the world is changing, I don’t agree that the management of project managers is what Drucker and MIntzberg were talkng about.

        If you have yet to do so, take a look at Module 1 of the Guild of Project Control Body of Knowledge and you can see how the roles and responsibilities of all the actors fit together……. This is based on the AACE Total Cost Management Framework along with the asset centric model being used by BP, COPI, Shell, Exxon etc and that of the International Asset Management Association (the IAM)

        In the end, for OWNERS, project management is nothing more than the delivery system of choice…… The means to an end…. Which is why for most owner (as opposed to contractor) organizations, project management is a relatively low level job, with little formal authority. It is only when you get into CONTRACTOR organizations where the “project manager is king” (or queen, as the case may be). In owner organizations it is the asset and operations managers who are the kings and queens. Why? Because in contractor organizations the project is the PROFIT center, while in OWNER organizations the project is a COST or INVESTMENT center. The PROFIT CENTER for an owner are the PRODUCTS that the project creates- The creation, updating, enhancement and eventually the disposal of ORGANIZATIONAL ASSETS.

        Dr. PDG, Guangzhou, China

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