For the last days I’ve been probing Project Management experts from all over the world in order to get a better idea of what challenges Project Management faces nowadays. It’s been amazingly instructive and informative. Reading and listening to their answers has truly given me a new and clearer view into the complexity ensuing from project management.
I started my search based on the question “What is the biggest challenge Project Management(PM) has to face in our modern, technologically advanced world?” I, therefore, got in contact with 10 of the top PM-experts that have provided me with individual answers to the given question which I would gladly like to share with you.
Stay on Track
One thing that challenges every business and every project is hitting the business target. David Blumhorst says that on time, on budget and on scope deliver does NOT equal hitting the business target. According to him, project managers’ biggest challenge is to make sure they’re on track to meet the business targets.
It’s Always Good to Know What you are Doing
“If you dont define your scope in clear and concise terms in the begining and really go through that process of working out exactly what the deliverables are that you’re gonna deliver to your customer and then decomposing what exactly it’s gonna take to do all those things […] then you’re gonna be missing things.”, Josh Nankivel reports and refers to a general lack in work-breakdown structures. In his opinion an unpalatably defined scope is the indubitable reason for schedule and cost overruns, which quite often frustrate projects.
Lack of Qualification
Jason Westland takes Josh’s and David’s opinion to the next level as he detects defects in the qualification of nowadays managers. He complains that it’s, in these days, too easy to become a project manager as it only takes a short advanced training to receive a certificate. “Now most managers dont have lots of qualifications. The percentage of project managers that have a formal qualification is getting a lot less”, Jason remarks, claiming to keep PM a “full discipline“.
Comprehensive Schools as a Solution?
And Jason is surly not left alone with his assumption. Elizabeth Harrin urges to introduce a national standard which would enable a universally accepted qualification. But she also addresses a problem: “Project related work and jobs are growing too quickly for our approaches to professionalism to keep up”, Elizabeth notes and adds that this is precisely why it’s become hard for employees and employers to choose their qualifications.
“Two monologues do not make a dialogue”
Besides a general lack of classification and qualification Ron Holohan comes up with a totally new aspect, the importance of communication. He declares: “We are getting worse at communicating with people on and off of our teams” and refers to the wide range of technology on market. Ron underlines the importance of PMS but also blames it for scope creep, conflicts and misunderstandings. Mark Horstmann agrees as he believes that the real problem is the increasing focus on technology as a solution to more effective projects when in fact the only solution that has ever existed when it comes to projects is people who do good work in a timely way. “Technology is great but it’s worthless without people“, he continues and reasons the success of projects from how well people fit in the project.
People=Resources → Resources=Inevitable
Soma Bhattacharia proves the importance, stating “no matter what tools we got […] at the end of the day you have to work with your team”. In her opinion project managers need to pay more attention to the interpersonal communication as well as the resources management in order to know who you work with and what you can do to create a pleasant atmosphere.
Don’t Forget about People
Resources Management also plays an important part in Margaret Meloni’s view on the biggest challenge PM faces today as her response to the opening question is the continued push to get everyone to do more with less. “We get caught up in a hectic paste that we forget about the people around us“,Margaret states and argues: “The more that we demand from people, the better we need to treat them.”
The Choice of the Right Underling
Another challenge that deals with human resources and interpersonal communication offers Tom Mochal. Taking his theories into account an obstacle is the problem of trying to assign work and get work done with people that don’t report to their manager functionally. If you’re given inchoate, erroneous or even no information at all, the project is likely to fail.
Is it only about Information?
Mark Perry provides us with the answer. Project management offices(PMO), unlike other organisations that are driven by mission-critical goals such as making a sales quote or achieving a market share target, usually don’t have blatant and public victories but still have to deal with issues, problems and unrealistic expectations by management and stakeholders. Mark complains about a lack of commitment by those that are assigned to a project. According to him the biggest challenge project management faces is to find a way to keep up the passion for what you’re working on.
As we can see, the assumptions of the importance of different challenges vary a lot and every expert has an individual view on the biggest challenge but one thing they all have in common is to make PM as effective as possible.
Don’t forget to check out my next post which will deal with ways to solve the addressed problems!