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Kelley Hunsberger, editor, PMI.org: September 2008 Archives

Sorry, I'm Booked

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IT professionals at companies across the United Kingdom need more project and program management training--but they can't seem to find the time for it. That's according to a recent study by U.K. firm Parity Consulting.
    The study questioned 225 IT professionals at 50 large U.K. companies and 75% said they would be investing in program and project management training next year, but 66% said they are too busy at work to undertake as much training as they would like.
    So what should they do? Whose job is it to make sure the employees get the time for training they need?
    In this case, I'm going to say it's the organization's job. They are the ones calling for training, so they need to create an environment where employees feel empowered to get training, even if it means time away from their work. Organizations willing to make an investment in their employees are more likely to keep their employees. And with the talent crunch in full swing, that's something organizations better be focused on.

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Better Government Projects

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People want more accountability out of U.S. federal government programs, according to a new study. Conducted by Primavera, Government 2.0--The Performance Opportunity reveals "that both federal managers and average Americans are calling for management reform in the next administration."
    Some of the key takeaways from the online survey of 3,868 members of the general public and 382 federal managers, included:

  • 75% of Americans would like the government to notify them when a program goes over budget, why it went over budget and how they will fix the problem
  • 65% of federal managers suggest a standardized system for reporting and tracking project updates and changes
  • 55% of federal managers recommend a standardized system for reporting project problems in real time
    So what's so interesting? First of all, I think the ideas behind the findings are something that can be applied to project managers around the globe, not just ones in the United States.
    And it is just more proof that project management adds value--and that it's not something that just project managers see. Even though the general public may not know all the proper terms, they understand the basic concepts behind project management. They are the stakeholders and they want full transparency. And they understand the value accountability brings.

Big Value

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Projects of all shapes and sizes can reap the rewards project management has to offer. But it's the world's mega-projects that stand to benefit the most from some solid methodology and strong leadership.
    Because if things go awry, it's these projects that will lose the most money and scar a company's reputation. Remember the Big Dig in Boston, Massachusetts, USA? More than 20 years in the making, the massive $14.6 billion transportation project came in almost $4 billion over the original estimate. And a yearlong investigation by The Boston Globe revealed more than $1 billion of the overruns could be attributed to the Big Dig's project management and design firms.
    Organizations around the world, however, seem to be learning the lesson of the value of project management. Take Dubai, United Arab Emirates. When it comes to mega-projects, there is no other place like it. From islands shaped like palm trees, to dinosaur theme parks, to the world's tallest building, this place has it all.
    To stay ahead of the pack, however, they need project managers. And the organizations there know it. Just look at any job board and you will find pages and pages of postings for Dubai.
    Remember: mega-projects can lead to mega-problems if you don't do it right.

Everyday Value

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I've been covering project management for nearly three years now. I've learned many things about scope creep and schedules and budgets. I know intimate details of some of the world's most extravagant projects (usually in Dubai, United Arab Emirates) as well as some of more mundane ones--both types equally important to their stakeholders, of course.

What I've also come to learn is the ways project management can be implemented into everyday life. Whether it's planning a party or publishing a magazine, life sure can be made easier with a project plan.

Here at PM Network, our project manager has the title of managing editor. He builds and monitors the schedules, prioritizes work and makes sure all members of the team are communicating any problems that may delay our final delivery. It's a role that takes patience, for sure, because in the world of publishing something inevitably always comes up.

You don't always have to have the title "project manager" to use project management to deliver value.

The New ROI, continued ...

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Roger Chou, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan-based CEO of Advanced Business Consulting, a PMI Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.), recently weighed in on project ROI and the project manager role in strategic direction:

"If executives want project managers to think about the organization's strategic direction, the best way is to include them in the discussion of long-term strategy planning and in the relevant processes that help form a consensus. Constant discussion between executives and project managers on how to achieve the organization's long-term objectives allows project managers to propose feasible solutions, projects or programs that addresses, and is beneficial to, the organization's strategic direction, forming a top-down mutual understanding."

Talking About Innovation

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Increased innovation keeps popping up in discussions on the intangible benefits uncovered in the preliminary results of PMI's Researching the Value of Project Management study.

It's a topic that's covered often in PM Network--just check out "A Closer Look: Film Riot" from January 2008 or "The Big Payoff" from the February 2008 issue. And it's a topic that the business world at large is paying attention to. CIOs--that's chief innovation officers--are more and more becoming a part of the team. Citi, The Chicago Tribune, Humana, YMCA of the USA and Innovolt  have all brought them to the table.

Innovation and project management go hand-in-hand when it comes to driving the overall strategy of an organization. Project professionals have a big role in this--they will be the ones developing, organizing and executing these innovative new projects. Just look at Apple's iPhone or Masdar City--a $22 billion portfolio of mega-projects aimed at building the world's greenest city in Abu Dhabi. There's no telling what project leaders will come up with next.

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