When I ask individuals who come on our project management training courses what they want to achieve by attending the training one area jumps out; they want a project management system or process.
They do not want bureaucracy; they want practical approaches that will help deliver projects on time to budget and with the right results and they want a system that can be used across the organisation.
Course participants leave our project management events really motivated to deliver however when they get back to their place of work they often face a problem; usually it is a senior manager who shows no interest in their new skills and knowledge. More than one person has suggested it would have been better to have muddled along as before because while they have the project management solution, their manager shows no interest in it.
Senior managers usually sign up to any in-house project management approach and in a lot of cases Executive Boards approve the system. But, and it is a big but…why is it that so many senior managers who wanted the system in the first place do not actually engage with it?
I receive feedback from many people in many different ways and two pieces received last week reflects what I see all too often:
• senior managers not signing off project documentation holding back project progress
• poor risk management at a project level which senior managers condone by their lack of involvement
So why bother with having an in-house project management approach in the first place? If senior managers do not engage with the process ensuring it works it becomes redundant, it causes de-motivation and projects are not delivered as they should be. I wonder whether any of them fail to engage with the performance management system or ignore health and safety requirements.
I know that senior managers are pressurised to deliver. However, the very area which can help them in a really practical way and which many have approved they seem to ignore.
The need for senior management involvement can be seen when you look at the Chaos Report by Standish. It shows the importance of involvement of senior management which comes 2nd in a list of 10 project management success criteria. Without this, no matter how hard you work (which accounts for approximately 2.4% chance of project success) you will struggle.
*So, what is needed is not just a project management approach. It is a project management approach actively supported by senior managers*.