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September 2008 Archives

Sorry, I'm Booked

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IT professionals at companies across the United Kingdom need more project and program management training--but they can't seem to find the time for it. That's according to a recent study by U.K. firm Parity Consulting.
    The study questioned 225 IT professionals at 50 large U.K. companies and 75% said they would be investing in program and project management training next year, but 66% said they are too busy at work to undertake as much training as they would like.
    So what should they do? Whose job is it to make sure the employees get the time for training they need?
    In this case, I'm going to say it's the organization's job. They are the ones calling for training, so they need to create an environment where employees feel empowered to get training, even if it means time away from their work. Organizations willing to make an investment in their employees are more likely to keep their employees. And with the talent crunch in full swing, that's something organizations better be focused on.

Better Government Projects

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People want more accountability out of U.S. federal government programs, according to a new study. Conducted by Primavera, Government 2.0--The Performance Opportunity reveals "that both federal managers and average Americans are calling for management reform in the next administration."
    Some of the key takeaways from the online survey of 3,868 members of the general public and 382 federal managers, included:

  • 75% of Americans would like the government to notify them when a program goes over budget, why it went over budget and how they will fix the problem
  • 65% of federal managers suggest a standardized system for reporting and tracking project updates and changes
  • 55% of federal managers recommend a standardized system for reporting project problems in real time
    So what's so interesting? First of all, I think the ideas behind the findings are something that can be applied to project managers around the globe, not just ones in the United States.
    And it is just more proof that project management adds value--and that it's not something that just project managers see. Even though the general public may not know all the proper terms, they understand the basic concepts behind project management. They are the stakeholders and they want full transparency. And they understand the value accountability brings.

Everyday Value

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I've been covering project management for nearly three years now. I've learned many things about scope creep and schedules and budgets. I know intimate details of some of the world's most extravagant projects (usually in Dubai, United Arab Emirates) as well as some of more mundane ones--both types equally important to their stakeholders, of course.

What I've also come to learn is the ways project management can be implemented into everyday life. Whether it's planning a party or publishing a magazine, life sure can be made easier with a project plan.

Here at PM Network, our project manager has the title of managing editor. He builds and monitors the schedules, prioritizes work and makes sure all members of the team are communicating any problems that may delay our final delivery. It's a role that takes patience, for sure, because in the world of publishing something inevitably always comes up.

You don't always have to have the title "project manager" to use project management to deliver value.

The New ROI, continued ...

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Roger Chou, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan-based CEO of Advanced Business Consulting, a PMI Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.), recently weighed in on project ROI and the project manager role in strategic direction:

"If executives want project managers to think about the organization's strategic direction, the best way is to include them in the discussion of long-term strategy planning and in the relevant processes that help form a consensus. Constant discussion between executives and project managers on how to achieve the organization's long-term objectives allows project managers to propose feasible solutions, projects or programs that addresses, and is beneficial to, the organization's strategic direction, forming a top-down mutual understanding."

The Talent Value

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Okay, after lots of discussion around the preliminary results of PMI's Researching the Value of Project Management, I think we can all agree that project management does indeed bring value to the organization. But we haven't really talked about the people delivering that value--and where companies are going to find them.

Developing economies like India and Latin America are struggling to find enough people while established economies like Europe and the United States are struggling to find the right people. Indonesia, for example, is expected to be 12,000 project managers short in the oil and gas, mining, IT and telecommunications industries over the next five years.

At PMI's recent Latin America Congress in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Ricardo Viana Vargas, PMP, gave a great example that pretty much summed it all up. He recalled getting an e-mail from an Australian colleague with only three sentences: "I need a specialist in iron ore projects to work here. I need it now. Don't worry about the cost."

So what's a company to do? "The Great Talent Shortage," a January 2008 article in PM Network, provided some solutions. Here are a few:

"Call it sharing, stealing, enticing--we all have to go to the same pool to get people. You have to raid your competition, and they do the same."
--Yahya Khader, CEO, Clough Zuhair Fayez Partnership, Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia

"It's extremely important to hire a certain proportion of new project managers from outside your industry. It's the only way you can get fresh thinking and a new look at how you do business. Yet, human resource departments tend to always advertise in the same place and look for the same characteristics as the previous employee."
--Uma Gupta, Ph.D., PMP, senior advisor to the provost at the State University of New York, Buffalo, New York, USA

"Organizations are being more responsive to offering longer leave periods, better parental-leave provisions and a far greater proportion of performance-based payments. Measuring workplace satisfaction is becoming more common, with companies looking at their main employment brand attributes and developing programs to address gaps through benefits, mentoring, or training and development."
--Paul Bell, managing director, Fanselow Bell, Nelson, New Zealand

Of course, all of those things are often easier said than done. Companies have to make the commitment to not only recruit and retain the cream of the crop, but also to groom the next generation of project management leaders.

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