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Cyndee Miller, senior editor, PM Network: September 2008 Archives

The Office

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Take a close look at any team and you'll see a mind-boggling array of personalities. You've got the chatty people and the quiet ones, the ambitious go-getters and the, well, not-so-ambitious go-getters. You've got people who thrive under pressure and people who crumble at the mere mention of the word deadline.
    It seems like a recipe for disaster. So what's the key? Communication. Whether it's through face-to-face conversations, phone calls, e-mails or instant messaging, every team member has to stay up to speed. And if there is a problem, they need to clue in the rest of the team.
    How do you work with your team to make sure projects are completed? And how do you deal with those problems that always seem to arise just when you think you're almost done?
    Share your tips with us by leaving a comment.

Keep the Value Coming

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In this age of hyper attention on ROI, it's no surprise organizations are worried about sustaining value--or not sustaining it, I suppose, in the case of some organizations. According to the preliminary results of PMI's Researching the Value of Project Management, organizations that stop focusing on the value of project management can, in fact, destroy any value they ever had.
    Seems simple, right? To remain competitive, continuous improvement is necessary. Look through job descriptions related to project management and you almost always see the words "continuous improvement" in the list of duties.
    But continuous improvement doesn't just happen. Project managers get in ruts. And it's easy to just do things the way they've always been done. It takes a leader to keep things moving--and to ensure project management continues to support the organization's strategic direction.
    Because with the loss of value comes expanded scopes, extended schedules and exploding budgets. And nobody wants that.

The Talent Value

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Okay, after lots of discussion around the preliminary results of PMI's Researching the Value of Project Management, I think we can all agree that project management does indeed bring value to the organization. But we haven't really talked about the people delivering that value--and where companies are going to find them.

Developing economies like India and Latin America are struggling to find enough people while established economies like Europe and the United States are struggling to find the right people. Indonesia, for example, is expected to be 12,000 project managers short in the oil and gas, mining, IT and telecommunications industries over the next five years.

At PMI's recent Latin America Congress in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Ricardo Viana Vargas, PMP, gave a great example that pretty much summed it all up. He recalled getting an e-mail from an Australian colleague with only three sentences: "I need a specialist in iron ore projects to work here. I need it now. Don't worry about the cost."

So what's a company to do? "The Great Talent Shortage," a January 2008 article in PM Network, provided some solutions. Here are a few:

"Call it sharing, stealing, enticing--we all have to go to the same pool to get people. You have to raid your competition, and they do the same."
--Yahya Khader, CEO, Clough Zuhair Fayez Partnership, Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia

"It's extremely important to hire a certain proportion of new project managers from outside your industry. It's the only way you can get fresh thinking and a new look at how you do business. Yet, human resource departments tend to always advertise in the same place and look for the same characteristics as the previous employee."
--Uma Gupta, Ph.D., PMP, senior advisor to the provost at the State University of New York, Buffalo, New York, USA

"Organizations are being more responsive to offering longer leave periods, better parental-leave provisions and a far greater proportion of performance-based payments. Measuring workplace satisfaction is becoming more common, with companies looking at their main employment brand attributes and developing programs to address gaps through benefits, mentoring, or training and development."
--Paul Bell, managing director, Fanselow Bell, Nelson, New Zealand

Of course, all of those things are often easier said than done. Companies have to make the commitment to not only recruit and retain the cream of the crop, but also to groom the next generation of project management leaders.

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Voices of Project Management is the place for all things project management—covering sustainability, talent management, ROI, programs and portfolios and all points in between. The goal is to spark a discussion. So, if you read something that you agree with, want more information on or even disagree with leave a comment.