Over recent years there has been an increase in the number of people working in a project related capacity. While some of this is as a result to an increase in the number of projects, it is also as a direct result of many organisations recognising the importance of setting up and approaching projects with the correct rigor and discipline.
However, in many cases, the project teams are formed by simply telling existing resources working on “business as usual” activities (their day job), that they are now a project manager. This is all well and good and many resources really seize the opportunity and go on to become very good project managers.
However, it is typical when someone is told they are now a project manager, that they are not given any training. They are just expected to get on with the job. Take a moment to think about your own career, how did you learn new skills? It is highly likely that it was on the job. If you were lucky you may have had a boss or mentor to explain what was needed and guide you. Alas for many this is not the case and the experience is gained through trial and error.
Thinking of the amount of money invested each year on projects, it really puzzles me why so many organisations adopt the trial and error approach with the people they ask to deliver projects. Trial and error usually results in the project running a lot slower, making mistakes, requiring rework all of which cost the organisation more time and money.
In contrast, implementing a framework to support and train project resources can help mitigate many of these risks. There is also the added benefit that the organisation gains from the increased skill levels of the individual (removing the need to pay for expensive external resources) and increased job satisfaction for the employee.
What can a PMO do to help?
The PMO can establish and run internal training schemes that cover the basics of project manager, the approach (tool and processes) to use, act as a sounding board to discus project issues, provide ongoing guidance to help project managers deliver, regularly meet and review progress with project managers to point out potential problems, etc. Obviously, the PMO needs to be staffed with skilled, experienced practitioners to have any credibility.
By doing this, it will allow a consistent level of skill and standardisation to be embedded in the project delivery approach, resulting in a higher probability of successful outcomes.
Even, just having standard tools and project templates, will greatly help a new project manager as they can be given an overview, access to the tools and templates and they should have a good understanding of what is expected.
- It is important to train and mentor project managers.
- Don’t assume they know what is expected of them (however good they were in their previous role).
- Make it easy by establishing a good set of tools and project templates.
- Provide support in an environment where they feel comfortable to ask basic questions.
- Establish internal training programmes or identify good external courses.
- Consider promoting formal qualification of project managers i.e. PMP