Today’s complex multi-source operating models are characterized by numerous suppliers that provide infrastructure, applications and business services. At any given time, multiple concurrent projects are in flight and in the pipeline. Such environments create a potential nightmare for project management – specifically, with myriad providers involved in delivering individual projects, how do you apply consistent standards for tracking, reporting, training and measurement? How do you maintain a level of granular discipline on managing individual projects, and at the same time ensure that multiple inter-related projects support a broader operational strategy?
Enforcing even the most basic standards can present a challenge. I’ve observed a client environment where two key suppliers on a project couldn’t agree on a common standard for reporting milestones and deliverables. With both parties adhering to the, “We’ve always done it this way” party line, and with neither side willing to budge, the client had to add resources solely for the purpose of consolidating reports into a common format. So, rather than adding value and streamlining operations, the service delivery arrangement was creating more work.
Moreover, attempts to implement project management discipline are often ineffective – they’re either too heavy-handed and bureaucratic or too vague and casual. That means stakeholders are doubly likely to be dubious and resistant the second time around. Indeed, when rolling out a new project management program, it is a good idea to acknowledge past mistakes and emphasize that things will be different this time.
In other words, while project management is all about rules and processes and standards, it’s also about people. An effective project management initiative therefore has to balance technical rigor with a management approach that considers the dynamics and challenges of an operational environment subject to the day-to-day realities of the people who run it.
This ISG white paper by my colleague Michelle Mack examines common issues around project management, and discusses steps that organizations can take to design and implement an effective Program/Project Management Office (PMO) to address these issues and ensure consistent oversight of critical operational projects.