Episode 200 Part 3: The Number One Challenge in Project Management Today (Free)
In case you haven’t listened to part 1 and 2, then let me just quickly remind you what we are doing for our anniversary. We have asked 20 thought-leaders in project management one simple question:
In your opinion, what is the number one challenge that project management is facing today and how do we best address it?
The four parts of episode 200 are the compilation of their answers.
So let’s move on and hear what
- Mark Horstman - www.managertools.com
- Jack Ferraro - www.myprojectadvisor.com
- Lindsay Scott - www.arraspeople.co.uk
- Soma Bhattacharia - www.steppingintopm.com
- Terry Doerscher - www.botinternational.com
- Andy Kaufmann - www.peopleandprojectspodcast.com
have to say.
And when you are done don’t forget to watch part 4 in which you’ll see the four video responses that we received.
Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Part 3 of Episode #200. This is The Project Management Podcast™ at www.pm-podcast.com and I am Cornelius Fichtner. Nice to have you back again for this milestone.
In case you haven’t listened to either Part 1 or 2 then let me just quickly remind you again what it is that we are doing for our anniversary episode. We asked 20 thought leaders in project management one simple question: In your opinion, what is the number one challenge that project management is facing today and how do we best address it?
The four parts of Episode 200 is the compilation of their answers. So let’s move on and hear what Mark Horstman, Jack Ferraro, Lindsay Scott, Terry Doerscher, Soma Battacharia and Andy Kaufman have to say. And when you are done, don’t forget to watch Part 4 in which you’ll see the several video responses that we received to our question.
Mark Horstoman: Folks, my name is Mark Horstman of Manager Tools and I’m here to answer the question that Cornelius put to us: What’s the biggest challenge facing project management today and how do we address it?
At the risk of sounding like the old saying of “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” My belief is the biggest problem facing project management today is the increasing focus on technology as a solution to more effective projects when in fact, the only solution that has ever existed when it comes to projects is people and people doing good work in a timely way.
I see far too many projects and specifically project managers focusing on the documentation and the reporting of the work that their team is doing. I see all kinds of discussions and discussion forums and websites about the latest technological improvement in project management. How can we have the website email people to let them know when things are due? How can we make sure that everybody sees the same version of a given report? How can we make it easy for people to report on the work that they’ve done? These are all really good improvements but they are all at the margins.
I don’t think it’s right to say they’re like rearranging deck chairs in the Titanic because that implies that project management is going into the wrong direction. And in fact, project management is a hugely important field that potentially can improve the overall face of management for the next hundred years. And the technology world has played a big role in that because there are so many tasks associated with so many technology projects and technical projects in the world. Project managers have a lot to teach management and managers all over the world about how to be more effective in getting things done internally in organizations.
But the focus again is on technology rather than on what’s really important. Mike Auzenne and I, my business partner at Manager Tools are famous for Horstman’s Law of Project Management which is as simple as “who does what by when?” Folks, it doesn’t matter how great your software is. It doesn’t matter how transparent your website is. It doesn’t matter how easy it is for people to report on their work or how easy it is for the website to let people know: ‘Hey you got a deadline coming up!’ or how easy it is to create a report which has red, yellow, green and make sure everybody knows when their resource constraints and so on. All that stuff is great and it doesn’t matter if people aren’t doing the work in an effective way and in a timely way. So it’s not as bad as deck chairs in the Titanic. It’s a wrong analogy. I admit it. Please don’t send me email and tell me I’m wrong because project management is doing good things.
That said, what’s really important for project managers to learn is how to build relationships with the right people. Get to know the people on their team and also with the people that they support internally and make sure they know people well enough to get the best work out of them than possible.
Project management in microcosm is just management without the role power. It’s a great transitional role for young managers particularly [the half] to learn how to manage with influence with relationship power rather than role power which later and later in ones career becomes less and less important.
If you want to be more effective as a project manager, get to know the people you’re working with. Get to know whom they’re serving and what it is they want. Spend time developing relationships with those folks and frankly, the better you are as a project manager, the more you know about your people and the more you can influence them to get what you want done, the more likely you are to look good as a future executive because that’s what executives do --- work with other people without role power in order to get things done.
Cornelius, thanks for all the hard work you do on The Project Management Podcast™. We’re thrilled to be associated with professionals like you. Thanks!
Jack Ferraro: Good afternoon! My name is Jack Ferraro with My Project Advisor and I am weighing in on this important question that Cornelius has posed to us which is “What is the number one challenge that project management is facing today and how would we best address it?”
In my experience, the biggest challenge today is the matrix management of projects and the multi-tasking that since ensues and kills productivity.
Multi-tasking I believe is the biggest threat we have to our projects because of our inability to get to the proper throughput of getting high number of strategic projects done in a timely basis. The way this is addressed is by applying essentially engineering or a systematic approach to managing projects to managing multiple projects. It’s about applying a multi-system project method using a lot of the planning tools and capabilities that we are well aware of but doing so in a way that fundamentally organizes the structure of project resources to be able to accomplish twice as much output than is normally accomplished in most organizations.
This multi-system project approach, this engineering approach to scheduling projects and managing resources can be found at www.myprojectadvisor.com. Thank you for your attention and best wishes in 2012.
Lindsay Scott: Hi! My name is Lindsay Scott and I’m the Director for Project Management Recruitment Specialist in the UK Arras People. You can find our website for more information at www.arraspeople.co.uk.
As we see it the number one challenge for project management both here in the UK and globally is the credibility and perception of project management by the [way it is being seen]. When you ask anyone who exist outside the project management community: What is project management? Generally, three answers that come back. The Apprentice, the popular TV show both from the UK and the US is often cited. The impression that project management normally involves trying to manage a distinctional team with lots of fights and tears which ends up with the project manager being fired. The second, you either work in IT and the third answer will invariably include some high profile project failure. Here in the UK, that might include things like giving a lot of projects like the NHS-IT program or more publicly visible projects like Terminal 5 Heathrow Baggage Handling.
The project management profession has to change the public’s perception of the work they do. And to do this, you need to think about how to market yourself to different parts of the population in order to raise a profile of the profession. Professional bodies in project management must play a large part in this. Professional bodies have made good focus internally.
What I mean by that is that they have been making advances in project management standards, processes, management skills, learning and training opportunities, knowledge sharing and support. All these things have helped to improve the maturity of project management as a profession. Yet because they are all internally focused, why the population still knows very little about project management?