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Project Management Matters

A recent PMI* survey reported organisations globally lose an average $109 million for every $1 billion spent on projects.  Evidence suggests little has changed in the past 10 years in the way programmes are delivered; fundamental principles are not being addressed and change is not effectively managed.  In today’s complex environment such waste cannot be ignored and project management shortcomings within organisations must be addressed if true business value is to be delivered.

The role of project management is often misunderstood and companies fail to deliver due to inefficient resource management and controls.  Delivering projects as a side-line activity using an outdated plan that decorates the office wall is not an approach we recommend.  Furthermore, attempting to deliver projects without any management at all is simply a recipe for disaster.  So why do companies continue to shy away from appropriate project governance and control?

I have recently assisted in a pitch for a new system implementation initiative to a small broking house.  This was to be an off the shelf application with configuration effort rather than new development.  The client could not comprehend the need for a formal project initiative for this work and very much expected an internal manager to take on the work as if it was a hobby, and one that could be delivered in time for the forthcoming renewal season.  Project management as an activity was very much perceived as a cost and one that could be waived in order to reduce the budget.  This was to be the third attempt at a system implementation in five years.  All past attempts failed; no system made it to a Production environment and each failed initiative cost in excess of £100,000.  All past attempts were handled as BAU without formal structure, scope control, budget or plan.

We believe project managers should be experienced and experts in the business area they operate.  They should be empowered to plan the work, assign and manage the team and understand the scope and timescale.

We walked away from the implementation initiative; we like to work knowing we can add value.  We did convince the client to rethink their approach and the work is at least on hold, for now!

Project management is an effective way to control spending and improve project results.  With little room for error and fewer resources to rely on, project management expertise and oversight can help firms to streamline their delivery process, cut costs and sidestep risks.

* Project Management Institute is the world’s leading not-for-profit professional membership association for the project, program and portfolio management profession.

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