Great project managers have great networks

Much research over the last twenty years has attempted to identify the characteristics of successful project managers. However, more recently, this has been questioned and replaced with a more interesting debate. What makes for successful project management? The argument goes that even the ‘best’ project manager acting alone without support from the organization and appropriate collaboration with peers and other stakeholders is unlikely to be successful.

In our own research on the characteristics of successful project managers, we found that the high performers were much more likely to have extended personal and professional relationships within and outside their organizations. It wasn’t just that they had more expertise to draw upon, but also that when they needed to interact with stakeholders, to further the goals of their projects, they were more likely to have pre-existing relationships to draw upon. They built up and valued ‘social capital’ in ways that less experienced project managers were unlikely to do.

Great project managers have great networks

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What makes a good benefits analyst?

Some years ago we published the results of a survey on what were the key skills and competencies of a portfolio business analyst.  Even then we struggled to find a suitable and commonly used job title for those analysts involved in supporting the development of business cases and benefits management plans.  We have come across so many names – business case analyst, benefits analyst…

Five years later and benefits management remains an aspiration rather than a reality in most organisations.   Heather van Wyk presented on her experiences in benefits management at the EMEA PMI Congress in Berlin.  She relates how, when she quizzed the audience, only a handful of participants felt that businesses were successful in implementing effective benefits processes.

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Culling projects: A critical portfolio process

With most organisations reporting more projects that they can resource, stopping projects which are addressing yesterday’s problems may be even more important than not starting those projects designed to address today’s.

In a review of 15 client portfolios, the UK project consultancy group, CITI reported that in annual portfolio prioritisation more than one-third of the projects and programmes approved were carried forwarded from previous years, with 20% having survived two annual review processes.  The question perhaps to ask is – does this reflect a real need for long-term projects or is it that management decision making around stopping something is just so much harder than approving a project to start?

Significant portfolio management attention has been paid over the last few years to developing improved governance processes around the front-end selection and prioritisation of projects.  But portfolio monitoring and control is a much greyer area and often confusion arises between the governance responsibilities at the portfolio and project sponsorship levels.

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The PMO as knowledge broker

Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely

Identifying lessons learnt is a necessary part of the project process, not only does this information have the capacity to lighten the workload of the project manager, but it also places the company running the project, in a position of increased competitiveness – however, this is only if the knowledge is actually applied. Unfortunately, the reality confronting many project managers is that once boxes have been ticked and projects completed, it is very rare that this information is accessed and utilised in future projects.

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