The latest numbers published in the Pulse of the Profession® from the Project Management Institute (PMI®), show very discouraging numbers, which also raise some flags on what the Profession should do to get better results on projects globally. Amongst the numbers and facts we can see a decrease in the percentages of projects that “met original goals/business intent”, where “completed within original budget” and “completed on time”, to numbers of 62%, 53% and 49% respectively.
Whilst the latest fact is something to worry about in itself, what makes this even more worrying, is that the decreases mentioned go along with a rocketing increase in Project Management Professional (PMP®) certified professionals globally, which really gets my attention and makes me wonder, why if we have higher than ever certified professionals out there, the success rates of projects are going down.
One could certainly infer that the results, have to do with the fact that the amount of qualified Project Managers (PMs) out there, is insufficient to comply with the global economy´s demand for Project Managers, “currently, demand for project management professionals is not matched by availability of resources with relevant project management skills” (PMI Project Management Skills Gap Report); however, it is also true that there is a lack of Conflict Management skills and attitude amongst the Project Managers in regards to handling or managing quite probably the most common of the conflicts present in projects globally. There is no conference, training, or consulting endeavor, where I do not get the comment “but that in real life does not happen”, when referring to the triple constraint. By consulting all type of customers, from Fortune 500 Organizations, Government agencies, small and medium businesses, I can certainly affirm that most PMs have a clear understanding of Project Management´s best practices, tools and techniques, among other things, or they do receive the knowledge through mentoring and training; they also, understand what the business requirements are, and also what are the two main restrictions they have, meaning, budget and time as well; however, a high percentage of them, simply lack the skills or assertiveness to confront either their sponsors or customers regarding what they do get assigned.
Let me get straight to the point, businesses, meaning sponsors and customers, in a vast majority, do NOT understand Project Management, and they don’t have to!!, they understand their businesses and their needs, and based on that fact, their assumptions, their expectations, desires and needs, most of the time, might not be aligned with the budget and time they allocate for the projects that will create the products which will solve their needs. This is the sole justification for the existence of Project Managers and Project Management Units, divisions, companies, etc; but ironically, it is also, from my perspective, the reason for the most common conflict in projects, which is, simply put, the lack of sufficient funds and time to deliver or develop the project the right way. And here is where the issue arises, you´ll hear the Project Managers state that “they can´t” say NO to what they get assigned, or if they do, the response they´ll get is, “do it anyway, since it is already agreed upon”. The truth is, that you CAN SAY NO, and actually you MUST SAY NO, committing to an impossible assignment, does not make it possible, and also, it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY as a PM to SAY NO; only two things can happen, you either get the additional funds and/or time you need, or you get the negative response we mentioned before, in which case, then you´ll have a choice to make, either you decide to stay and live through your Project´s life cycle in complete stress and awareness of the fact that you will NOT deliver on time and within schedule, or you say, “the heck with it”, I choose not to live a “chronicle of an announced death” and rather leave the project….I know the latter might frightened you as a PM, but I can assure you that you will have a better live, and at the same time you will help us increase the success numbers in PM Globally.
So, let me encourage you, if you are already a PM, think about it, think about how many times you didn´t say no, made your best effort, and kept yourself and your project team under a stressful situation for as long as the Project Life cycle took; now, think about the impact it will have in your teams, in your projects, and more importantly, in your life, the simple fact of being assertive, truly assuming your role as a PM, and saying no; and if you are just starting your journey in the PM World, then please, learn how to say NO, understand who your stakeholders are, and learn how to be assertive and what truly means to be responsible as a PM.
By doing so, the number of projects you will lead, will be better aligned with the business requirements, will be really and truly achievable in terms of time and cost, and then, only then, the proper use of all the PM tools, techniques and best practices will add value.
If we all do this, the numbers in the following Pulse publications might change, we ALL TOGETHER can make the difference!!!
If you like the article, and in some way agree with what I’ve exposed, then share it, the more PMs and future PMs that read it and share it, the bigger the impact we will create!!
Also, if you have time, please go and complete the PM Best Practices Survey we are running, to help us improve the profession.
I am the CEO of Grupo Empresarial 360 (www.ge360.net) and also a Board Director at PMI´s Global Accreditation Center. I have been involved in the development of the PM profession for over 14 years, through Academia and Consulting-Training, my experience as a Scholar-Practitioner globally has allowed me, not only to gather knowledge and experience, but also data about the profession, which I use to serve my organization´s and my own personal mission, which is to Transform the World.
You can reach out to me via LinkedIn at https://cr.linkedin.com/in/federicovargascr , and also on Twitter @fedevargascr or through email via firstname.lastname@example.org