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Balancing The IT Project Management Skills You Need With The Talent & The Resources You Have – Is PMaaS The Silver Bullet?

David Cotgreave - Stoneseed

“To achieve success in all the projects that my Project Management Office is handling I need either an extra twenty staff or an extra twenty hours in the week.”

Sound vaguely familiar? Not enough hands on deck, not enough time…?

Perhaps you find that your Project Management capabilities are lacking?

It could be that it’s not that your team lack capability – just that they lack the right competencies for the current project. Identifying this and addressing it can be the difference between success and failure.

By the way, you’re not alone! According to John P Kotter, Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School, only around 5% of “large-scale transformational change projects” end in success. These are often the hardest projects to deliver – the transformational projects that can dramatically change the trajectory of your organisation and by default the trajectory of its partners and clients – but the ‘smaller’ more tactical or strategic projects, that are just as important, can be equally hampered by a shortage of relevant skills just when you need them.

When Oxford University’s Saïd Business School analysed 1,500 large global projects it concluded that IT projects are more likely to fail than large projects in other sectors, such as construction. Why?

I think it is because Project Management is a largely cerebral pastime, and as such the different individual skills that come together to make the whole are often overlooked and underappreciated.

Take the aforementioned construction sector, if you were doing something physical, like building a house, you wouldn’t have a “Building Guys Office” and expect each member of the team to have ALL the necessary skills. You’d have bricklayers, joiners, plumbers, electricians, etc. – in other words a balance of talents that come together to form a complementary and efficient solution to your requirement. You’d finish one house and the whole team would pick up their tool box and take their skills next door and start again.

If only Project Management were like that! Imagine having a nice neat estate of projects to construct, all the same, all requiring the same guys with the same skills! IT Project Management is never like that – To complete the house building analogy, whereas on one project you might need an electrician, on the next you might not need one at all and on the project after that you might need six of them. It makes capacity management very difficult.

So how do you achieve the necessary balance of skills, talent and resources when managing an IT project?

Having a totally in-house project management team cannot deliver such equilibrium so previously, like the building firms, you would hire in contractors. Again though, the world of Project Management lacks the uniformity across the spectrum of projects you’ll be handling to make this thoroughly cost efficient. Cost creep for an IT project can be fatal.

However, the contractor route works for some, and while many feel that it lacks the necessary flexibility, the fact that it works in a percentage of cases means that the kernel of a winning formula lies somewhere therein.

So let’s drill down.

What if, instead of buying in the individual skills, you were to outsource the very process – buy in Project Management as a Service?

Suddenly, just by moving the touch point at which you access the outsourced talent back a single step, you exponentially increase the potential benefits and flexibility. You dramatically alter the trajectory.

You access specific talent matched with specific projects for a specified amount of time. To return to the house building scenario, if outsourcing gets you a carpenter – then outsourcing the process gets you the carpenter who specialises in kitchen cabinets when you need one … or a carpenter who specialises in dovetail joints when that’s what you require.

It is a truly flexible on-demand resource. Accessing Project Management as a Service gives you the specialist you need for exactly the length of time you need them with no lengthy tie-ins or additional headcount.

Other benefits mentioned in client testimonials include;

You get to improve your IT Project Delivery at low cost thanks to predictable cost modelling, managed by robust and consistent KPIs, governance, metrics and reporting.

You benefit from more efficient capacity management and resource planning whilst losing the headache caused by retention issues and staff turnover.

The right partner will not just broadly match talent with project requirements they will also align them culturally with your organisation and its ethos and specific business case.

Often with no net increase in your portfolio costs you can complement and improve your in-house Project Management capabilities.

Better, more objective decision making – with benefit of an external influence office politics are either diluted or erased altogether, allowing freedom to choose solutions just from a business case paradigm.

Through exposure to new methods you organically grow new in-house skills – external talent may have been exposed to different sectors and their insights can often be transferred to your operation.

There are further generic benefits and there will be many others that will be exclusive to your unique business case but if you ARE finding that IT Project Delivery is a challenge – change the trajectory – investigate PMaaS.



About David Cotgreave

If you like David's blogs - he is now a published author - Straight Talk on Project Management - Free eBook. Why not download your copy today. http://www.stoneseed.co.uk/ebook David Cotgreave MBA, BSc (hons), PRINCE II, is Professional Services Director at Stoneseed, with over 20 years’ experience in IT Consulting. David has worked with organisations such as BT Engage IT and KPMG, before founding Stoneseed in 2009 and has gained considerable business experience whilst working with a wide range of organisations across the UK and Europe carrying out a range of strategy, review and implementation projects. David is currently responsible for leading the Programme and Project Management services offered by Stoneseed. Project Management as a Service (PMaaS) from Stoneseed offers clients access to Project Management staff, resources and tools at a flexible and predictable cost via a fully Structured Managed Service. www.stoneseed.co.uk

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  1. I really like the analogy with building a house. Learning how to optimize PM is the key to success, especially in the IT sector. With the right tools and strategies, the whole process can be smoother and with the best results.

  2. For organizations whose business is not primarily in Information Technology and where Information Technology is only a support function, IT projects do not change dramatically. Most of the large IT projects rather take place less frequently in such businesses when compared with companies focused on delivering IT solutions. Perhaps PMaaS may apply in such companies with successful project management deliveries as their core competency. Then again it doesn’t harm if companies consider or investigate outsourcing their project management capabilities.

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