Most organizations and consultants will agree that a project management team involves the following members:
- executive sponsors
- business owners
- project managers
- team leads
Choose any analogy you like, sailing a ship, building a structure, putting on a Broadway production, and you see that just like any surmountable task, it takes various individuals taking on various duties to get the job done. And while we can all agree on the need for these roles, I find it interesting that, at times, organizations can invest heavily in the project management structure, such as project reporting and other process details, that the competencies needed to complete the project become of secondary importance. The people, the captains, architects, play directors, or what have you, have to possess necessary skills or the project may suffer dire consequences. The proof is in the statistics. According to a 2012 article in the Gallup Business Journal, a PricewaterhouseCoopers study revealed that a mere 2.5% of some 10,000+ projects completed by 200 companies around the world had successful completions. They also reported a Harvard Business Review study that indicated that about 17% of the 1,471 IT projects studied recorded a cost overrun of 200% and practically 70% overrun when it came to the schedule.
A project doesn’t have to be doomed from the start, of course, if the right people have been carefully chosen to run it. Let’s take a simple project structure and zero in on the Project Director, Project Manager and Team Leads. Here are the characteristics I believe make a good Project Director:
- Executive-level experience and understanding
- Ability to communicate up and down the organizational chain
- Experience with large, complex projects
- Fiscal accountability
- Vendor management skills
Similarly, in addition to experience, good Project Managers have exceptional organizational skills and are detailed-oriented with strong interpersonal and communication skills.
Finally, Team Leads couple strong communication and organizational skills with functional or technical knowledge and critical thinking. When choosing your Team Leads ask yourself, “Who is the person I can least afford to lose from operations?”. Name that person and you have your Team Lead.
While all the competencies listed thus far are readily demonstrable, I would challenge you to pay attention to intangible characteristics when choosing your project team. The two that come to mind are respect for/within the organization and ability to embrace change. Many a project has been derailed by behavior that screams “I’m doing everything I can to hold onto the old processes” while seemingly leading the development of new processes.
Remember, successful project delivery is a combination of many things – among them, effective product selection, a good contract, organizational change management, project management and vendor management – that need to work cohesively in order to get it done. Not the least of these are the competencies of the people involved.