SME Project Managers – The Next Generation

Traditional Project Managers

Larger organisations (businesses and public sector organisations) usually have lots of projects and plenty of project management expertise in-house. Typically they will have a community of project managers looking after a mix of:

  • product development
  • internal change or transformation, and
  • delivery of client projects.

Very often these are supported by some flavour of PMO (project, programme or portfolio), methodologies, competence models and development programmes. They will likely have adopted sophisticated EPM or PPM tools to support the community and the organisation, and likely to have a senior executive responsible for the PM function. For decades this has been the basis for most project management, and for the purposes of this discussion, we will describe project professionals working in this environment as “traditional project managers”.

It is estimated that there are 5.9m businesses in the UK, of which 5.85m are SMEs with less than 250 employees.

SME Project Manager

Next Generation Project Managers

Over the last 5 years, or so, we have seen a significant shift. With the “projectification of society“, there are now many more project managers working in smaller organisations (SMEs) than traditional project managers.

APM’s Golden Thread research reports that there are 2.13m FTE project professionals working in the UK, and that 1.3m (some 60%) of these work in SMEs, suggesting that 40% work in larger businesses and public sector organisations.

We see that there are increasing expectations on these SME project managers.

They not only act as project manager, but they also need to behave as sub-enterprise CEOs or “mini-MDs”. This adds an entrepreneurial level of competence expectation.

Innovation, often heavily dependent on collaboration is often a core demand.

Other Responsibilities. As you shift closer to the “smaller enterprise” side of the SME continuum, very often these PMs also have other day-to-day responsibilities (a day job), in addition to managing the project(s). In many cases the individuals don’t see themselves as project managers, just that project management is part of their role.

Greater Sensitivity to Failure. The next generation PMs are managing a relatively small number of projects, but their individual projects are proportionally much more critical to the success of their organisation than individual projects in much larger organisations.

As organisation size grows, project management capability grows, but reliance on the success of individual projects reduces.

Over-riding Challenges for SMEs. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, SMEs reported their top 5 challenges as:
1. Attracting customers (79%),
2. Increasing revenues (59%),
3. Maintaining profitability (51%),
4. Uncertainty over economic conditions (27%), and
5. Developing new products/innovation (19%).
Digging below the surface here and it is clear that 4 of these 5 can be dramatically and positively improved by improving project success rates.

The Challenge

It is essential to support these entrepreneurial project managers and their organisations to deliver demonstrable value, as they seek ever greater agility and efficiency. Very often the next generation project managers and their leaders:

  • don’t know what they don’t know, meaning that they don’t know what help to ask for, let alone where to get it from,
  • get by on unconscious competence, or
  • rely on using one of the many, many SaaS “PM Tools” to guide them through the basics, and
  • have little or no budget for overheads like PMOs.

Through resilience and hard work they usually get through. In the 2020’s, and with all of the turbulence that we’re seeing, we all need them to prosper.

Sources of Support

So how do next Generation project managers get the help they need?

In House Colleagues

In many SMEs there is a much smaller PM community, and consequently less in-house access to the much needed expertise & support.

Professional Bodies

The professional bodies (IPMA, APM, PMI) have rightly focused on traditional project managers. They have product offerings (qualifications aimed at traditional project managers, corporate memberships aimed at bigger organisations, CPD, and publications) that understandably meet the needs of their traditional market. They don’t have specific solutions which meet all of the needs of next generation project managers and their employers.

Next generation project managers can however, and sometimes do, join the professional bodies as individual members and make good use of the networking and CPD opportunities offered.

The professional bodies do have communities of eager, well-intentioned volunteer traditional project managers who can generously talk to the next generation project managers about how they do (or did) manage their traditional projects. They can of course ably signpost to the body’s products. However, in many cases they don’t:

  • speak the same language as SMEs,
  • fully appreciate the challenges faced by SMEs,
  • understand the SME challenges sufficiently well to ask the right questions, or
  • have all of the necessary competences or toolkits needed by next generation project managers.

It is however concerning that the bodies tend to focus attention on techniques, and unsurprisingly project objective failure rates of around 80% remains stubbornly consistent. I believe that this results from the focus on techniques alone and neglecting the necessary link with human factors – behaviours and attitudes. The bodies are also largely ill-equipped to help SMEs understand where to focus their efforts for maximum benefit.

Bounce Back Advisors

Traditional public sector funded, small business advisors are usually under very tight support time constraints. They are likely to have had very limited exposure to project management. This is often something like having attended a PRINCE2™ training course, without subsequently using any of the acquired skills “in anger”.


Traditional business consultancies (especially the big 4) have focused their attention on the “low hanging fruit” of traditional project managers where the causes of pain of project failure is well understood.

Smaller specialist P3M consultancies, like ProjExc do have experience of managing projects in big organisations as well as the specific challenges faced by SMEs, after all we are SMEs.

What are ProjExc Doing?

At ProjExc we have learnt the importance of:

  • laser sharp focus on what is actually needed, and only as it is needed,
  • demystifying project management
  • listening, challenging and supporting, rather than assuming and ‘throwing the book at them’.

When engaging with us, we take our SME clients on a journey of discovery, with a blend of coaching and mentoring to suit individuals and their unique needs. We build relationships, create relevant PM Playbooks, grow competences and structure solid attitudes and behaviours to help our clients achieve consistent PM success.

We also have a separate website, PM Advisor, dedicated to supporting and providing free-to-use resources for next generation project managers and SME businesses.

If anything in this article has struck a chord, or stimulated your thinking, please comment below, or reach out to me on Twitter, Linked In or by email. I’m keen to take this conversation further.

John Williams, Founder at ProjExc

What is a Project?

John Williams

In December 2019 we did a little campaign demonstrating that not every organisation labels a project as such. ProjExc is a project management consultancy. We’ve been leading projects, and helping organisations to do their project management better for decades. It’s not surprising that we know what a project is. Occasionally we are reminded though that not everyone knows what a project is, let alone what type of project they might be dealing with. This matters though because, if you are to be successful, how you approach your endeavour needs to suit the circumstance.

The Association for Project Management (APM)s core reference the PM Body of Knowledge (PMBoK) says that “a project is a unique transient endeavour undertaken to bring about a change and to achieve planned objectives.” The key points here are that it is a piece of work that has a very clear start and end, that delivers a new capability that is defined and tangible.

What is not a Project?
Put simply, if your endeavour isn’t a project, the chances are it’s business as usual (BaU) activity.

Project LifeCycle
All projects will work through a very simple lifecycle: They start with definition and planning. While the plan is being executed, it will be controlled, and once the deliverables are accepted the project will be closed. Planning, Controlling and Closing are project management tasks. The core activities of the project itself is the execution of the plan, and these activities will have clear characteristics depending on the type of the project. I see that there are 3 main types of project, but some projects will be a combination of the types.

Types of Project
Projects can usually be characterised as transformation (or change), new product introduction, or delivery. Here I’ll attempt to outline the different characteristics and provide some examples. Be aware that different sectors/industries may well have slightly different terminologies.

Transformation or Change Projects
These projects will see an organisation deliver a transformation or change of some kind. They may be a unique project in their own right, or in simple terms may consist a programme of projects and BaU activity (look elsewhere on the website for explanation of the differences between projects, programmes and portfolios).

Typically, at a very high level, the project execution will work through the phases of: Business Needs; Concept & Design; Training & Implementation; Post-Implementation.

Examples might include: Office Relocation, Digital Transformation, Merger/Acquisition, New System Introduction.

New Product Introduction Projects
These projects will oversee the introduction of new products/services. Typically, at a high level, the project will work through the phases of: Ideation; Orientation; Concept Definition; Product Development; Product Preparation; Product Realisation; Business Operations. Normally these phases are punctuated with key milestones or stage gates. Depending on the nature of the project, agile or a hybrid-agile product development is becoming increasingly popular.

Delivery Projects
These projects will often be characterised as contracts or jobs, but they will usually deliver something for a client. Typically the stages will be:
Requirements; Design; Development; Testing; Deployment; Commence Support. Often these projects will form part of a client change project/programme.

Examples might include: a new building, a new piece or system of capital equipment, a new client website.

What is Agile Project Management?

Agile is a much used term in the modern business world, but it’s often a minefield for the uninitiated.

With more than 50 methods, frameworks and approaches, 4 core values, 12 principles, 6 steps, more than 35 tools, and many misconceptions, where do you start and what (if at all) is right for you and your projects?

Some see Agile project management as a different discipline to project management. In this article (perhaps controversially) we argue that project management is project management, regardless of whether the project execution is following one of these Agile frameworks or not.

What is Agile?

Agile normally refers to a group of methodologies based on iterative & incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organising cross-functional teams.
To be clear, Agile isn’t actually a methodology of any kind. It is a movement with a seventy three word manifesto and twelve principles. The manifesto and principles were intended for the optimisation of software development.
We are aware of more than 50 methodologies, frameworks and approaches for Agile.  Henny Portman’s A PM’s Guide to 42 Agile Methodologies provides an interesting breakdown of many, categorised as follows, which we’ve built on a little:

Portfolio Level:

Management of Portfolios (MoP), Standard for Portfolio Management (SfPfM), Agile Portfolio Development (AgilePfM), Disciplined Agile (DA), Evidence-Based Portfolio Management (E-B PfM), Bimodal Portfolio Management (Bimodal PfM), Praxis and Agile Shift.

One-time Program Level:

Agile Program Management (Agile PgM) [MSP].

One-time Project Level:

Agile Project Management (Agile PM) [derived from DSDM], PRINCE2 Agile, PMI-Agile Certified Professional (PMI-ACP), Project Half Double.

Business as Usual (BaU) Product/Program Level:

Product Targeted: Scale Agile Framework (SAFe), Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS), Nexus, Scrum at Scale (S@S)
Team Targeted: Spotify Model, Scaled Agile Lean Development (ScALeD)
Culture Targeted: AgileSHIFT, Agile Fluency, Apen Space Agility (OSA), Agility Scales, Holocracy, Sociocracy.
Agile Digital Services (AgileDS), and Toyota Production System (TPS)

Team Level:

Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban, DevOps, (Bus)DevOps, Design Thinking.

Engineering Level:

eXtreme Programming (XP), Acceptance Test Driven Development (ATDD), Test-driven Development (TDD), Behavior-Driven Development (BDD), Feature-Driven Development (FDD), Experiment-Driven Development (EDD), User Experience Design (UX Design), Agile Business Analysis (Agile BA), Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD), Agile modelling (AM)
Agile Methods Mindmap
Methodologies, Frameworks and Approaches for Agile Development

The Agile Manifesto has:

4 core values:

i) Individuals and interactions over processes and tools,
ii) Working software over comprehensive documentation,
iii) Customer collaboration over contact negotiation, and
iv) Responding to change over following a plan

12 principles:

1) Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software (or whatever else you deliver).
2) Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
3) Deliver projects frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference for the shorter timescale.
4) Coordinating team members must work together daily throughout the project.
5) Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need and trust them to get the job done.
6) Face-to-face conversation is the most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within different teams.
7) The final product is the primary measure of progress.
8) Agile processes promote sustainable development. All stakeholders should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
9) Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
10) Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done—is essential
11) The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
12) At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

Typically there are 6 steps:

i) Project planning,
ii) Product roadmap,
iii) Release planning,
iv) Sprint planning,
v) Daily meetings,
vi) Sprint review & retrospective

and 7 team member characteristics:

T shaped, Cross-functional, Adaptable, Curious, Entrepreneurial, Team-oriented, Committed to excellence.

There are a host of tools available to support Agile Development.  They include: Active Collab, Agile Bench, Agile Manager, airfocus, Assembla, Axosoft, Clarizen, ClickUp, Easy Project, Github Project Management, Gravity, Icescrum, Jira Agile, Kanbanize, LeanKit,, nifty, Nostromo, Pivotal Tracker, Planbox, Productboard, Proggio, Quire, Ravetree, ServiceNow, SpiraTeam, SprintGround, Taiga, Target Process, Telerik TeamPulse, VersionOne, VSTS, Wrike, and Zoho Sprints.

Agile Tools Cloud
This list is not exhaustive.  Let us know if you’ve used a great tool to support your projects and we’ll add it to the list!

Common Misconceptions

There are a number of myths and misconceptions around what Agile is and isn’t.  Much that is written about agile is based on experience of poor project management and sadly fails to recognise that there is incredible value and necessity for project management, regardless of the development approach used.  Some of the misconceptions that we often see include:
    “Agile is better (or worse) than waterfall.”  Waterfall is a sequential software design model first introduced by Dr. Winston W. Royce in 1970.  Waterfall can of course be better suited to some developments, but the world of enterprise project management has universally recognised that this is very uncommon.
    “Waterfall is enterprise project management.”    Waterfall is generally considered by the project profession to be the least efficient way to complete a large-scale project.  However, a great number of (usually non-project managers) commentators and enthusiasts have, probably unintentionally, confused ‘waterfall’ with ‘project management’.
    “Agile means ‘we don’t have a plan’ / Agile needs no planning.” Embarking on a project without a plan is like setting off on a journey without knowing where you are going. Detailed planning is as essential to the effectiveness of an Agile project as it is to any other. In any project, planning is an ongoing iterative task, and where there is more agility in execution, then rightly there will be more agility in the level of detail within the plan. We recommend an approach to planning such that the further out the execution activity, the lower the level of detail necessary within the plan, but there should always be a plan to the end of the project.
    “Agile doesn’t need project managers.” Sure, development itself doesn’t need a project manager, but if the development is part of a project (see definition below) then the project will need a project manager if it is going to have any chance of success.
    “Agile only works for developers and software.” There are many types of project where using Agile techniques can add great value to a project and improve their outcomes.  There are of course others where it is wholly unsuitable.
    “Agile doesn’t believe in documentation / Agile means no reporting.” Being agile means being adaptive to change, but it doesn’t mean you don’t need to document anything. A lack of clear project information is an open door to scope creep. Whether it’s the team’s capacity, a baseline plan, or status reports, documentation must not be neglected.
    “Agile alone will fix all of our problems / Agile is a panacea.” Good luck with that! Clearly, one solution does not solve all problems.
    “Agile delivers speed.”  It is usually intended to deliver quality by being more accommodating of scope change to meet the rhythm.
Let us know if you’ve heard some other misconceptions, or you feel more should be added to the list.

What is Project Management?

A project is a unique endeavour, with clear deliverables, a clear start and a clear end point.
Projects will usually have 1 of 4 types of lifecycle:
1) Linear – highly predictive, suiting stable, low-risk environments or commercial arrangements,
2) Incremental – aiming for quick wins, conserving scarce resources or delivering early benefits,
3) Iterative – early learning, scope depends on risk appetite, evolving objectives and an extendable duration, and
4) Evolutionary – highly adaptive, where deployment sees several major transitions.
Project management is recognised as the most efficient way of defining and achieving targets while optimising the use of resources over the course of the project.
At ProjExc we see that project managers are of course responsible for the core project management “wrapper” of:
planning the project,
controlling and reporting on the execution of the project, and finally
reviewing and closing the project.
In addition, and without exception, the project manager is also responsible for the management (and leadership) of the project itself.

What is Agile Project Management?

Some see agile project management as a different discipline to project management. We don’t. Project management is project management regardless of the type of project.  A capable project manager will be able to adapt to the type of project being executed, whether that’s a change project, a customer/deployment project, an infrastructure project or a product development project.  Put simply, Agile Project Management is the management of a project which is using Agile techniques for it’s execution.
At ProjExc, we equip our client’s project managers with the appropriate techniques, tools and competences to be able to do the important project management tasks as well as to be able to successfully lead the project, regardless of the methodologies, often uniquely, appropriate to their business.

Projecting the Future: APM’s Big Conversation around the future of the project profession

Association for Project Management (APM), the chartered body for the project profession, has embarked on a “Big Conversation”, encouraging project professionals to consider the future of the project profession and the challenges it is likely to face.

Launched in 2019, the APM has embarked on a conversational journey, encouraging the profession to look at 6 identified challenges and to ask itself 6 key questions. All with a view as to how the profession can thrive and how we might shape the future as a profession.

ProjExc are supporting the Big Conversation as an APM Corporate Partner. In addition our lead consultant John Williams, as a volunteer in the APM Midlands branch, is working hard to bring as many project professionals as possible into the conversation.


APM have a section on their website APM: Projecting the Future, dedicated to the Big Conversation.

There are also 2 super videos on YouTube:

  • A brief introduction, and
  • A fuller briefing which was originally presented by the projecting the future chair, Tim Banfield, as a webinar.

In addition there are a whole host of other resources and a growing set of challenge papers on the website.

The 6 Identified Challenges

  • The 4th industrial revolution: data, automation & AI (up to 800 million jobs globally could be automated by 2030).
  • Climate change, clean growth & sustainability (the UK is committed to cutting CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050).
  • Demographics & ageing: the 100-year life (10 million people alive in the UK today can expect to live to 100).
  • The future of mobility & transport (The UK market for autonomous vehicles could be worth £52bn by 2035).
  • Future workplace, future skills (in the future 4 out of 5 UK businesses will need more high-level skills).
  • Urbanisation, connectivity & building smart cities (global spending on smart cities could reach $135bn by 2021).

PtF: 6 challenges & 6 questions
Challenges & Questions

APM see 6 important questions, around:

  1. the role of the project profession
  2. what project management might look like in the future
  3. skills and mindsets
  4. driving the necessary change
  5. the future role of the APM, and
  6. who else can help shape the change.

Some more questions for you:

  • How can you (and your employer) prepare for the future?
  • What are you doing already?
  • What can you contribute to the Big Conversation?

Using Portfolio Management as an Early Warning System

An important component of Portfolio Management, which is often either forgotten or not adequately considered, is regular independent snapshot reporting. Snapshot reporting can be an extremely effective early warning system for projects, programs and portfolios.

Portfolio Management

A portfolio is a group of projects and/or programs. Depending on the type of organisation, the portfolio may include any mix of internal change initiatives, new product development, and client delivery. Portfolio Management is a crucial mechanism in enabling an organisation to optimise the delivery of its strategic goals. It sees that the portfolio is managed in such a way as to select, prioritise and control delivery to meet strategic objectives while making the best use of organisational resources, maximising value, and doing so in the required timeframe.

ProjExc PfM Model

Reporting Aggregation

Part of portfolio delivery control is reporting. An approach we recommend for this reporting is centred around portfolio snapshot reporting (PSR).

As well as consolidating and aggregating project status, the PSR will highlight performance. We advise clients to monitor leading (PM behaviours) and lagging (project outcome) KPIs as well as resource capacity and any business-specific metrics. When reporting on and monitoring KPIs, it is important to communicate measures used, targets, data source and frequency of data collection.

In addition, it is essential to capture in the PSR, at a headline level, various project status headlines including progress, short term targets, risks, issues, assumptions dependencies & interdependencies with other projects.

Frequency of PSR is important. Unless the average project length is 12 months or more, the recommended frequency would rarely be less than weekly, especially if the early warning is to be beneficial.

Portfolio Reviews

We all know that there is nothing more demoralising than producing reporting that isn’t used. There are substantial developmental opportunities that come from regular project reviews. We therefore strongly recommend that the portfolio team hold regular snapshot reviews, and these are considered to be most potent and beneficial to PMs and sponsors when subject to self-challenge, peer reviews and an external perspective.

An Early Warning System

In utilising rhythmic portfolio snapshot reporting, organisations can benefit from timely identification of deviation from the plan. In turn, this allows timely intervention to either return to plan or agree on necessary change. For clarity, timely here can be read as “before it’s too late”.

In our experience, there is often a significant benefit for sponsors/executives in capturing and sharing exception highlight reports to sit alongside the PSR.

Top Tips

To maximise the return on investment from PSR, we recommend:

  • Get into and stick to a regular (weekly) rhythm for reporting and reviews.
  • Include all of the projects and programs in your portfolio in the PSR.
  • Ensure senior executive or at the very least independent engagement with reviews, without exception. They should engage with the process, follow-up on the reviews and provide the necessary support for PMs. This will foster a culture of openness and visibility, and help create an environment where nasty surprises are not the norm.

What is a project?

It is still a surprise when we’re talking with those who are not knowingly part of the project profession, how many don’t realise they have projects in their world. More importantly they don’t realise that if they did recognise their projects as such, and applied some PM techniques they have the potential to realise better outcomes.

A project is recognised as a unique time based endeavour, with a clear deliverable.  That is, with a very clear start and end, a deliverable which can be used to realise some beneficial outcome is produced.

Projects get all manner of labels depending on the industry or context.  For example contract, job, case, initiative, engagement, ..

What is a project in your world?
Projects are given different names in different domains or industries.

How to Ensure your Strategic Initiative Succeeds

Originally posted on the ProjExc Project Excellence Blog on 09-Dec-13

A Project Needs A Manager
No self-respecting business leader in the 21st century would consider delivering a project without a project manager (PM). The nominated PM may not be a project management professional, but regardless they will be expected to plan the project, oversee the execution of the project and bring it to a successful conclusion. Success will most likely be described in terms of deliverables meeting a specification, within a pre-determined budget and in an agreed timeframe.

Strategic Initiative = Project
All too often we see critical strategic initiatives proceeding without a clearly defined owner. The strategic initiative has not been described or considered as a project, even though it is*, and as such PM has not been nominated.

Manage The Project
The PM will define and plan the project, share that plan and keep it up to date. They will track progress against the plan and report in that progress, and finally they will bring the project to a neat conclusion ensuring handover for an operational mode.

Get Expert Help
A super way to get the project off to a great start is to bring in an interim PM to help with the initial plan for the project and put in place reporting methods, and then allowing someone from your team to follow the plan. This can be a very cost effective way of making sure you reduce the risk of failure.

If you want to ensure the success of your strategic initiative, contact the ProjExc Team about their Project Kick-Start Service.

Top 8 Considerations When Recruiting a PM

Originally posted on the ProjExc Project Excellence Blog on 29-Nov-13

Recruiting the right PM into your organisation is a big decision and often a huge investment, yet all too often the success is largely left to chance.

Prepare and choose wisely, rather than take a gamble, and you’ll have a much better chance of ensuring that your projects succeed.

1. Investment
Do you have a mature project management organisation with structured project management processes and tools? If yes, then you can probably afford to recruit a less experienced (less expensive) PM as you will have have confidence that sufficient structure is in place to ensure success. If you don’t have structured and proven systems in place, then you will need to employ a more capable PM, who also has the experience to choose when and when not to use the relevant tools from their toolkit.

2. Don’t Compromise
Never be tempted to put in place a permanent hire who doesn’t meet your essential needs in the hope that they’ll adapt or get there. Not only would this be a high risk decision for your organisation, but also for the individual as well. Until you find the right person, buy yourself some time and bring in an interim. There are plenty out there!

3. Specification
Involve stakeholders in specifying the role and the ideal person to maximise the chances of putting the right person in post. Those stakeholders will not just be the line manager, but also other senior leaders and resource managers. It is often a wise move to consider what your customers need or expect as well. Consider (or ask) do they use particular PM frameworks/methodologies/toolsets which your PM will be expected to interface with? If your PM is expected to behave internally as a customer champion, this should also have a bearing on what you are looking for.

4. The Role
In recruitment it goes without saying that you need a solid role (or job) description. Honest clarity is essential if you are going to bring on board the right person. The right person will be, and will continue to be, motivated. Remember though the more detailed/rigid the responsibilities the less flexibility you’ll have in the future.

5. The Person
As well as the role, it is really important to specify the type of project manager you are looking for. The hard skills which you need and want is the starting point. Then think about the experiences your ideal candidate will have had. Crucially important as well are the attitudes and softer skills.

6. Pure Project Management
Is your project manager also going to be one of the project resources, or solely focused on project management? In the former case you will probably be looking for industry knowledge. Remember though that the more the project manager will be sucked into the detail of the project, the greater the risk that they will lose focus on their project management responsibilities.

7. Induction
You’ve appointed a great PM with the skills, experiences and personality that you need. Don’t fall into the trap of a half-hearted induction. Make sure that you equip your new PM with the information and tools they need to do a great job from day one, helping them to climb up that learning curve as quickly and effectively as possible. If you can, give them a mentor and/or coach to give them the best possible start. This can be someone internal if they have the skills and time to fulfil the role, otherwise use someone from outside. This relatively small investment will provide a truly significant return.

8. Assessment
Most organisations apply a 3 or 6 month probationary period to new recruits but often don’t apply a structured approach to making the most of it, either for the organisation or for the individual. Independently led regular assessments and reviews during the probationary period will ensure that both parties are held accountable for giving new recruits the best possible opportunity to settle in and prove that they meet expectations.

Next time you are recruiting for this pivotal role don’t forget to consider the above and you won’t go far wrong. If you need any support during the recruitment or settling in of project management professionals, why not get in touch with the team at ProjExc. Good luck!

The 3 Elements for Project Success

Originally posted on the ProjExc Project Excellence Blog on 10-Oct-13

On Wednesday 30th October our Founder, John Williams, will be talking to APM Midlands members about the 3 Elements for Project Success.

The participative session will explore what makes project managers successful, and how to make effective use of readily available methodologies, tools and resources. The session is suitable for all levels of the project management profession from project administrators through to CFOs and CEOs.

John recognises that today project managers work in an environment of increasing expectation, and yet despite the availability of numerous methodologies, toolsets and competency frameworks, project objective failure rates are static at around 66%. He explores what successful project managers do differently and use to help them?

Leveraging on the knowledge and experience of John and the audience, the interactive session will explore what competences and behaviours help make project managers successful.

He will then move on to look at what essential tools they should have to support the necessary behaviours for success. During the session participants will consider a pragmatic implementation & use of appropriate methodologies. They will explore the breadth and depth of available tools (paper based, device bound, cloud and server), as well as considering other available resources, formal and informal, internal and external.

Attendees will doubtless leave this fast-paced and thought provoking session with practical ideas for making their projects more successful, as well as the sense of how to access wide and ever-growing networks from which they can draw help and guidance as needed in the future.
Members and non-members (fees apply) are welcome. More details can be found on the APM website.

If you are unable to make it, but would like John to come and give a free talk to your organisation on how to improve project success contact us. Alternatively you may like to join one of our forthcoming free PM Answers online workshops – pre-register your interest on our PM Advisor website and we’ll let you know when more places become available.

Get a Grip of your Projects, and Cut Significant Cost Out of Your Business

Originally posted on the ProjExc Project Excellence Blog on 26-Jul-13
As project management consultants, we’re often asked by potential clients what they would need to invest in our services.
Of course there is a cost involved in providing the service and clearly our success to date is based on our clients seeing the excellent value in what we do for them.
We are often surprised though at how the value of the difference we will make in their
business is grossly underestimated, specifically in terms of saving ongoing costs
already being incurred.
A few basic questions often help:
What is the cost to the business of not delivering projects on time?
  • cost of customer dis-satisfaction/loss
  • cost of knock-on delays to other projects/work
  • cost of creation of resource peaks and inefficiencies
  • cost of delayed realisation of market opportunity or lost sales
  • cost of loss of stakeholder/investor confidence

What is the cost to the business of not delivering projects within budget?

  • cost of reduced profitability
  • cost of cash flow/need to divert resources
  • cost of loss of stakeholder confidence
  • cost of selecting the wrong project

What is the cost to the business of not delivering the full scope of the project?

  • cost of not providing the capability anticipated
  • cost of lost opportunities
  • cost of giving competitive advantage to others
  • cost of ineffective change and reputation

What is the potential cost to the business of insufficient insight and governance?

It can be painful thinking about what the cost of project failure is today in your business,
but the feelings often become easier when thinking about your strategy for reducing
those costs. Some low hanging fruit is always nice, but your long term success will
often depend on dealing with some of those “thornier” issues. Once dealt with you can
focus your efforts fully on managing a much more profitable organisation, and we all
know that success breeds success!