Since 2001, the column "Project Management in Practice" has been read by thousands of visitors to gantthead.com. Mark Mullaly has offered his insights, perspectives and observations about what really happens in organizations on a (mostly) monthly basis. The column confronts head-on the challenges that project managers confront on a regular basis, and strives to make sense of what happens when projects and organizations collide.
This blog takes a closer look at what happens when we try to manage projects “for real”. What really works, and what really doesn’t.
We have the PMBOK. We have IPMA. There's Prince2 (sort of). All represent 'standards' (of a flavour) of project management. So how many standards does the world really need? Hang on, because we're about to find out.
A small community of standards organizations, project management firms, industry and academia have been working over the past year to develop a 'global standard' for project management. This has included a review and effort to synthesize a number of other standards from around the world.
What is interesting about the resulting standards is that they are focussed on performance or competency, not just knowledge or 'attributes'. In other words, what should someone be doing when they are managing projects, and to what extent is that visible?
I'll be exploring the work more in upcoming columns, but in the meantime check out the web site of the Global Alliance for Project Management Standards at: http://www.globalpmstandards.org.
As far as Standards are concerned I believe the "effort" to get a global standard is an honourable one although I suspect it will bear no fruit.......but will devour a lot of effort. From my own Personal experience of managing portfolios for clients spanning thousands of seats over multiple continents who all align to their flavour of methodology (or derivative off).....we often find the "methodology" becomes the Project......and everyone forgets what it is we are meant to be delivering.
I have found that from my own experiences and practices of the mainstream methodologies as well as hands on experience as a PM that I will consider the circumstances of the individual project and then extract aspects from Prince, RAD, Agile etc etc to fit the need as well as the culture of the organisation that is the beneficiary.
I am however sceptically optimistic.....and hope I am wrong and a universal standard can be achieved and abided by....although then again I still hope that Elvis isn't really dead.
I think that people would like to ignore methodology, because they reason it takes too much time, or because it is too rigid. But these are false arguments.
The downside that allmost no-one mentiones is that this causes people to ''forget'' to adress issues, such as a proper description of a project risk. That scope creep is difficult too prevent because the governance structure is enforced too weakly. That proper management of current status vs future risk is not enforced and bi-laterals with (sub-)project managers become all about "does it feel right" in stead of "show my why its right"
In turn, this causes surprises, missed deadlines and unsatisfactory project deliverables for the stakeholders in the project. The repair of which will probably take way more time than thinking of using a proper methodology and following it would have in the first place.
I have the same ''evil'' tendency, but take it upon myself being a project management professional to force myself to take up the gauntlet to ensure that I have the tools to come into, stay in and control my projects / programs.
Both Anonymous and familyman make some really great points regarding process and standards, that are actually quite complementary to each other. How we use methodology, and how we use standards, is largely situational and pragmatic. Standards get 'extracted .. to fit the need' as Anonymous notes, which is really how they should get used anyway, in defining the specific course of action in a project.
The real challenge is what familyman brings to the fore, which is oftentimes that we forget even to do adapt, and default to a more informally managed ad hoc approach that results in weak management and weaker governance. And good for him for acknowledging the tendency exists in all of us!