Most project managers will answer the question by saying that they only have one project sponsor. This is a great answer – and it is far easier to manage a project with only one sponsor.
But for some projects, we find ourselves managing two (or, infrequently, more) executives who all want the role of sponsor. For example, a project where you are launching new software for the customer service division may have the IT Director as a sponsor (as her team provides the deliverables and manages the work) and the Customer Service Director (as his team is the one which will be using the output when the project is finished).
So who is in charge? Read more »
Real-life stories of other people’s projects always make good reading. Who doesn’t like to hear how other people do their job (and pinch all their ideas for making your projects more effective!)? My new book, Shortcuts to Success: Project Management in the Real World (2nd Edition) is published this month, and it’s full of case studies and examples from project managers around the world. Some are of things where the project went well, some are examples of where things didn’t go so well so that you can learn from their mistakes!
Here’s a case study from the first edition, on the topic of getting your message across. This project manager shares her experience of talking about her project in a creative way.
‘Our director had a project day,’ Catalina Marcos says. ‘He wanted the project managers to each present what they were working on. By the time my bit came round, he’d already sat through 15 short presentations.’ Read more »
Project Management Offices (PMOs) are on the decline, according to new research by consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. Over 1500 respondents from 38 countries were surveyed by PwC for the third Insights and Trends: Current Portfolio, Programme, and Project Management Practices report. The study showed that only 66% of businesses currently have a PMO, which is down from 80% in 2007. I think this shows that the global economic crisis has hit businesses and that they have had to make cutbacks.
Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to show a return from your PMO. The study also shows that about a third of companies never evaluate whether their PMO contributes to business success, and another third only do so once a year. Only 14% of organizations evaluate their PMOs monthly and they also check the return on investment (ROI) about two thirds of the time. While that isn’t many companies, it is good that they see their monthly evaluation as including a statement on ROI. This type of assessment really shows that the PMO is making a difference (or not – in which case you can do something about it).
With so little interest in proving the return on investment of a PMO perhaps it is no wonder that senior managers axe or scale back the PMO when they are forced to make cuts. I think there is certainly something to be said for introducing regular PMO reviews. If once a month is too frequent, then companies should look at alternatives, but aiming for at least more than once a year to ensure that they have the relevant data to prove that the PMO is making a positive difference to business results and project success. Read more »
You have your scope change process, right? It’s working well, and everyone follows it. There are standard forms for people to submit their change requests and a proper process for evaluating the impact of each change. Then recommendations are put to a project board who make the decision about whether or not to make the change, based on a full understanding of the additional time, cost, quality or resource implications of doing so.
Even if your change process doesn’t work exactly like a textbook, you probably have something that enables you to get changes approved on your project. The trouble is, some people don’t or won’t follow the process for small changs – and that can apply to your project sponsor too, who is just as likely to ask you to do something without a full analysis.
Is there a better way? Maybe a process for handling small changes that does not have the bureaucracy of the full change management approach? Before we answer that, it’s worth looking at what counts as a small scope change. Read more »
As a project manager, you’re a problem-solver, known for getting work done no matter what roadblock is thrown your way. Consider the following list of the top project management challenges – and see if you have a solution at the ready the next time it happens to one of your projects.
You can’t reach a goal if it isn’t clearly defined. Oftentimes, the problem with unclear goals comes all the way from upper management, where managers can’t agree on specific, measurable milestones. This can particularly be a problem in large projects involving several departments or divisions, since each department is likely to have its own goals.
To overcome this issue, it’s best for a project manager to, if possible, have one point of contact with upper management and to ask questions to establish clear goals from the start.
Changes in scope
The scope of a project is just as important as its goals, and even small changes in the parameters of the project can have huge effects on the outcome. A common consequence of too many decision-makers, scope creep commonly happens when individual supervisors, departments, or upper managers ask for seemingly small changes to a project.
It’s important, as a project manager, to carefully consider all the effects of a change in scope. Before you accept the change in scope, see how it will affect your deadlines and budget, and communicate those potential changes to the project’s stakeholders before accepting the scope change.
Lack of accountability
Part of your job is to get team members to work together well. This can be a challenge if no one feels a sense of true accountability – if team members are simply frustrated with one another and won’t take any blame for missed deadlines or mistakes.
To avoid this problem from the beginning of your project, build in certain accountability measures that can give you and the team checkpoints along the way. By setting up meeting times throughout the project between individual team members, supervisors, and the possibly the project manager, you will be making sure any potential problems and performance issues will get addressed in a timely manner.