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Monday, February 04, 2008

Organizational Project Management Dysfunction

Studies have shown there are lots of out of control projects in organizations. One of the contributing factors to this fact is the lack of qualified project management professionals. Many organizations tag people and assign them to run projects even though they have little to no experience and/or training in project management. Even with training, we know that training alone does not make a project manager. It takes years of experience to build project management competence.

Project management is a discipline, and as such requires people with self-discipline, and project management knowledge and experience to be successful. Too many times organizations look at a person’s technical and/or functional skills and make the assumption they can train them in the project management basics. They also wrongly assume these individuals will make a quick, smooth transition and be effective, capable project managers. You aren’t effective at anything if you aren’t measured against your performance. Most “accidental” project managers fail miserably because they don’t have the experience, or aren’t interested in doing the job.

Immature organizations tend to add project management to people’s job function rather than recognizing that project management is a profession. Organizations won’t be successful entrusting large complex projects to accidental project managers.

Organizations can help themselves by realizing that project management competence is measurable, and project management results are what matters. If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Inconsistent project results are many times the result of having the wrong people planning the wrong things in the wrong order, and using the wrong resources at the wrong times while following the wrong (or no) process while looking for the wrong results.

Competency at anything requires training, knowledge, and experience. Providing project management training without the benefit of ongoing mentoring is just asking for poor project results and dissatisfied customers.

Project management is a profession. Training alone doesn’t build professionalism. It takes lots of time and varied experiences, and even then some people never become professional project managers. I have said it before and believe the statement that “knowledge plus experience equals wisdom”. Without wise project managers an organization stands little chance of consistently delivering successful project results.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Stephen. I'm working to be sure (at least where I can contribute) that future PM standards and guidelines take the suggested integrated approach in which training, competency models, PM curricula, a career path, skills management, assessment & reward, professional certification and internal certification are all interrelated.

See more on my blog (which is a new one) at .

Thanks again.