Project completion only half the battle

TORONTO — Accountability is the new baseline for project management as the market slowly rights itself. That was one of the themes presented at a Tuesday panel discussion on the future of project management at ProjectWorld


The panel, which consisted of three Toronto-based experts in the area of project management, agreed that a key competency needed by project managers today is the ability to understand the language of business and the impacts of projects on it.

Marc Nameri, a director at Fujitsu Consulting , said that the days of second chances are history, and that every opportunity should be taken to architect projects for real results.

“”Keeping in mind the business value of the individual project is the prize. You take your eyes off the prize and you’ll fail,”” Nameri said. “”There are no more margins for mistakes.””

Michael Burns, president of 180 Systems, went a step further by admitting that in today’s tough economy it is not enough to be on time, on schedule and on budget anymore.

“”Those days are over,”” he said. “”Today’s mantra is about aligning a project with business strategy — alignment is critical.””

Burns noted that the best critical success factor for a project is simply ensuring that a project will truly benefit the company. He also suggested that because corporations are not willing to spend a lot of money up front these days, that establishing a prototype is a very effective way to sell a project.

“”The new role for the project manager today is that he or she should be the glue that holds the organization together. The project manager has to work closely with the CFO, the business units, the CIO, human resources, marketing and someone else vetting your ideas. You can’t do it alone — it’s too complex,”” he said.

Burns went on to explain that a close relationship with all of these people is imperative for a successful project because otherwise you could be setting yourself up for failure.

“”I’m a CA, and I know that a CFO will eat you for breakfast if you’re wrong. They’ll always find a flaw — it’s easy to find flaws with numbers,”” he said, so always have them on your side.

Robert Black, president of Project Masters Inc., said that he predicts that project managers will have to adjust to a new approach to projects: smaller and fewer projects with bigger risks and bigger ROI.

“”Because of this, project managers need to develop skills to control risk,”” he said.

The panel agreed that it is the business problem and not the IT problem that needs to maintain focus throughout a project. Not doing so can create pitfalls in terms of costs, project control and its actual delivery.

The only way to define the success of a project is to deliver it, yet Nameri pointed out that it is very common for projects to get to the 95 per cent completion stage and then continue to drag on with changes.

“”A good project manager can say that it’s finished,”” he said. “”The ones that can’t are in danger of having a black mark beside their name. In this environment there’s no second chance.””


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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