I was in email discussion with a senior manager about project management. I asked a number of questions including; how things have progressed since running a wide range of project courses, who was now in overall control of project management and whether there had been any financial return on investment (ROI) from all the training, including working with the board of Directors?
There was a silence and he said:
“I’m sorry to say that project management is very fragmented in the company.”
He went on to say: “Despite all the training, the work with Board of Directors, and the creation of our project management approach, I cannot say we are very co-ordinated. Has there been any ROI? Yes, I think there has been some; however we have nothing tangible to give an answer to this question.
There are small pockets of the company where project management is going well. When we get a project that involves others parts of the business….well, I think you know the problem.”
I reflected long and hard about this conversation. Unfortunately, it mirrored several other situations and conversations in other companies.
I asked myself several questions:
- Is an integrated approach to project management possible in companies today?
- Is the approach I am taking stopping the integrated approach?
- Do the senior managers simply not believe that project management is worth spending time on for the company?
- Why invest in so much work without finding out whether there is an ROI?
- Why won’t anyone senior ‘own’ project management in the company despite our best efforts (maybe linked with 1 and 2 above)?
- Am I looking for the impossible? is the company so fragmented I am trying to put sticky tape over a chasm!
I decided to ask my fellow Consultants their experiences around this theme and here are a few words (edited to reduce space) from each:
- I have found pretty much what you have found Ron. Companies talk the talk however they really fail to walk it.
- The PMO which was agreed 3 years ago never materialised. The project management approach we produced was great (according to them) however few people use it as they intended because the PMO was to be the ‘owner’ of project management. They did not do the volume of training agreed because again, the PMO was going to control who came on the training and some of the people who came along were not involved in projects. It was quite dispiriting
- The company wants project management to be a key delivery tool. They however work in silos with some parts of the business clearly not wanting to communicate with others
- I was working in a large company and delivering a training course around their needs. I was asked to deliver project management training for another department. When I described the training, they wanted to change it. However, the original programme was based on the company’s ’standard process’…
Maybe I am looking for perfection!
Maybe I’m looking for something that simply is not there.
I wonder however what companies do when they roll out say a new accounting package or a new appraisal system. Do the Board get right behind it? Is there a communications plan for it? Is there an owner for it?
How about project management …a paradox or …………………………….. How about filling in the space and letting me know!
Many thanks to my fellow project management consultants who helped with this article. I am very grateful!