Project Monitoring – more time spent on business as usual than projects?

I spent some time recently with one of my Project Agency colleagues, Mike Clayton. He was running a 3 day project management event for a client based on their in-house project management system. It was a very good 3 days and the group certainly benefited from the practical project management training.

We came to governance of projects. Mike mentioned something which stayed with me. He said, “Managers seem to spend more time monitoring business as usual than projects”. There was general nodding from course delegates. I decided to test this out with some of the participants on project management training courses I was running. Most of the course participants agreed with Mike’s statement. In percentage terms it was almost 100%

I wondered why and after asking participants on courses and some senior managers I concluded that managers do not understand the project governance process. What makes me say this?

• there is often a complete lack of governance structure for projects. When I asked what processes or structures they used to monitor and control projects there was much bluster and few concrete things in place to ensure projects delivered against the plan

• some of the senior managers did not know the role and purpose of project boards they sat on

• stories abound of senior managers who are never available to discuss resource requirements, risk issues, change management issues nor receive an update of project progress

• several people suggested that senior managers put unrealistic deadlines on projects teams without the resources to deliver them. Because they are not available to discuss this (see earlier point) the project becomes really difficult to manage

• senior managers need to be trained in project management in particular on their role as a sponsor or project board member. One or two I spoke to had been to half day overview sessions but not much more

Now before senior managers tell me that they allocate projects based on competence I do need to say that many people would benefit from further or some project management training. If you doubt this read previous posts on this blog!

If however senior managers can carry out their governance role more effectively then maybe, just maybe projects will have a better chance of being delivered on time to budget and with the right results.

If not…….it’s a project risk!

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