- Project, Programme and Portfolio Management
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Surveys of businesses across all industries continue to indicate that many organisations remain poor at consistently and effectively delivering successful projects. This continues to be the case, despite the obvious benefits of being otherwise, especially to the ‘bottom line’.
So why is this?
In my experience of consulting with organisations across many industries, businesses usually fall into one of two categories in relation to their project management environment. Either:
1) They have very little in place in terms of a corporate project management framework, or
2) They have something in place that was either implemented or has grown out of control to become too complicated, if not impossible, to follow.
Organisations that fall into the first category may employ experienced project managers that are capable of applying good project management principles, but are unable to do so due to a lack of infrastructure; or otherwise project management within these businesses amounts to little more than ‘fire-fighting’ (issue management), with similarly little success.
Organisations that fall into the second category generally put their project managers in the difficult position of having to cope with too much ‘admin’ (or red tape), and to jump through too many governance hoops, whilst attempting to manage the project successfully. The admin often includes the regular production of mandated, elaborate reporting requirements. The project manager’s finite capacity only allows him or her to cope with the most valuable project management tasks alongside the onerous admin tasks by taking short-cuts. This introduces additional risks which lead to issues that cause a lack of project success, for which the project manager feels exposed and uncomfortable, so may cause him or her to become disenchanted and leave the company.
It is rare to find a business that has defined and implemented a project management framework that achieves a good balance of control for invested effort.
So, is project management complicated?
I strongly believe that whilst projects can be complex, especially if they are technically challenging, have numerous outside influences or are abnormal to the organisation’s usual business, the corporate project management environment should never be complicated. In fact, the more complex the projects are, the more beneficial it is to control them within a simple framework that facilitates a smooth, efficient ride.
Let’s get down to basics. Fundamentally, project management is simple. You define what you intend to achieve, decide how to do it, think (and do something) about what might cause you problems and fix things that are causing problems. Generally, though, if you attend project management events and seminars, you can be left feeling that project management is so complicated that it should be avoided at all costs!
A project management framework should consist of the processes, tools and templates that assist project managers to deliver projects successfully, based on the above fundamentals, whilst providing transparency to those that govern them. Any ‘admin’ that is not adding good value to the control of projects should be removed.