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Talent Management: September 2008 Archives

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.

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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