A project manager’s job can be the most arduous job in an organization. It is they who have to create that perfect project plan, initiate that perfect project kick-off so that everybody knows their part in the project. Every project on paper looks articulate and showcases if they follow the project plan, one can finish them successfully. But, real world problems such as delays, bad communication, logistical issues, red tape, finding the right resources all make a mockery of the project that you perfectly planned for.
In fact, industry experts believe there is a growing concern with regards to how we plan our projects. Project’s dependence on major project management tools often takes the plan away from the people who execute those plans into action. Because project management tools rely more on tasks and the timelines in which those tasks have to be performed, it fails to recognize the real world needs of individuals who work on the project. Hence, project management today is not about project anymore, it is about people / individuals who work on the project.
A mismatch between people and tools:
According to the PwC’s “4th Global Portfolio Programme Management Survey”, it says that there are three major reasons for project failure which are: insufficient resources; poor estimates in the planning phase and changes in scope mid-project. This survey was conducted in more than 110 countries with over 3000 professionals participating in it.
The high point of the survey is that there is a crucial disconnect between planning of the project and how it addresses the real world behavior or resources. It is not like people are machines: they get sick, they work on multiple projects, they have other day jobs and few of them underperform lack of motivation etc. The research also gives us a clear picture on better resource management to increase the project success rate.
The shortcomings of traditional PPM tools:
As we said earlier, there is a crucial disconnect between the individuals who carry out the project plans in a real world behavior and the way the projects are planned. PPM tools give you an abstract look to the project where the tasks are broken down into small parts on screen. The ground reality is very far from what we see on a small screen with bars and charts, be it a group of five working on a latest application development or thousands of workers working on a big construction project.
This is a genuine problem for project managers – For instance, David Banks, a project manager who has his hands full with running a CSR initiative campaign for his organization which involves distributing information across multiple locations all over the world and heavily involves media agency, hiring resources, contractors and creating logistics of communication in his own organization. Even though David has planned his project to perfection, he notices things are not moving in the right pace as there are lots of delays throughout the project and is showing clear signs of disaster which could be a major embarrassment for the organization as it is a corporate social responsibility initiative.
This is one side of the story; let us take a look at it from another angle – Priscilla Connor who works for the same project as David, has good experience in handling media relations is an important resource. David assigns few important tasks related to media operations and lists them in the weekly meetings. Priscilla signs up for the tasks and committing her time during the meeting. But, both forgot a real world problem in that Priscilla has her day job commitments which have other pressing factors where she is working on other projects.
Considering all the factors, one can conclude that Priscilla’s contribution to the project won’t be as timely as David’s initial plans. In a similar manner the same might be the case with temps, third party vendors and contractors which means that the project misses deadlines and creeps over budget.
It may be the case that the project is successful as the work has been completed, but it looks bad on the part of David as the CSR initiative from his organization was scrutinized for its spending which does not create a better impression.
Resource-centric project would be more successful:
According to PwC’s survey, it has been established that there is a greater demand for project tools that gives project manager’s a holistic and transparent view of how people are being managed with regards to the work they are doing. Tools which can bridge the gap between project and real life can help project manager’s to look at resources and the projects they are part of and check whether the resources are over or under used.
As in the case of above example, a traditional project management tool could not have told David that Priscilla had too many things on her plate. In a similar way, the project management tool would not have also indicated that most of his temps have very little work and would not come asking him for new tasks to be assigned.
Project management today is not about project anymore, it is everything about interconnectivity between the tool and the people who are working towards it. Traditional PM tools do not rely much towards efficient resource management, but that is where most of the projects get completed successfully. Hence, project management is more about people than project management tools and techniques and other inter-related activities. Get the people on board and then understand the real world scenarios to better facilitate the successful completion of the project which adds more value to the organization.