The value of project management

Value of project managementA couple of days ago, I was able to attend the first project directors meeting in Madrid, organised by Madrid’s PMI chapter (of which I am member since I got my PMP certification last year)

After a long period of dissappointment for the associates with the chapter’s management, a new management has been determined in the last elections at the start of this year. As a result of that, the event had a large attendance and with the great enthusiasm that characterizes any project startup.

Apart from various announcements that were made, we had two interesting lectures: “The value of project management” by Ricardo Vargas (PMI board member) and “Executive management support for project management” by Alfonso Bucero (president of Madrid’s PMI chapter)

In this case, I would like to share with everyone some notes and opinions about the first of these lectures.

One of the first points stressed by Ricardo was the fact that projects are determined to failure. The entropy forces that rule our world determine that, if we don’t act against them to make things happen as planned, projects will end up in failure. In fact, one of the famous Murphy’s laws says: “if something can go wrong, it will go wrong”.

This is much more certain nowadays because the projects that we face are more complex every day, and we also have fewer resources and time, all of that inside an environment that gets more competitive day after day.

In this scenario, to achieve success with our projects doing things right is not enough anymore… but doing the right things, which several times we have to be able to determine every moment.

Ricardo also shown several figures related to cost overruns and delays in projects along the last years, and the figures were always around a 50% for cost overruns and around a 70% for time slips. He also commented about the criticality of project management in several projects where there are much more risk factors that are not so easily mesurables. On the other hand, he commented that management costs are usually around 2% of the project budget, what strengthens even more the value of a successful management.

Therefore, project management has to evolve from being considered as a technical discipline into a strategical discipline. Quoting PMI’s future vision of project management: “Worldwide, organisations will embrace, value and use project management, and will attribute their success to it”.

I would like to finish with a reference that Ricardo made to Jim Collins’s book “Good to Great”, where he compares organisations with a bus, where we need to get the right people in before deciding where to drive it.

Taking into account that we have a laboral market in which there is a lack of skilled professionals, I believe this last issue is specially crucial for the success of any objective that we want to achieve… even though unfortunately in many organisations these ideas are not more than a mere marketing claim.

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