Project Challenges or Challenging Project Management Maturity?

Insights | 06 September 2017

Projects by definition are unique. As a result, challenges to projects and project management can initially seem many and varied – but are they? What are common challenges faced by organisations large and small, private and public, in the pursuit of successful projects?

7 Common Challenges

  1. In (or out of) control? Are we using the right documents for the project without overwhelming it from bureaucracy, versus little or no documentation? What is the right level of documentation for our projects? What controls should we have in place?
  2. Benefits, benefits, benefits. Yes, the ‘why’ of a project but often benefits are thought of only at the beginning of a project as part of the business case to get approval and funding. Do we have agreed methods for valuing and measuring benefits? Are we monitoring, reviewing and achieving benefits throughout the project and afterwards?
  3. The Financials. One of the most common questions (and challenges): ‘Is it going to be on budget?’  Yes, typically followed by ‘Is it going to be on time?’ After all, time is money. Have all the appropriate costs (at the right rates) been included? Do we have established cost estimating methods? Are the financials being continuously monitored? Is the business case being reviewed? Does it still stack up?
  4. Risk: Threat or opportunity? For many projects, risk management may be akin to ‘keeping off the front page of the newspaper’.  Have we articulated the key threats to the project? Do we have the right focus on managing risks? Are we missing something? Are we looking at risks throughout the project, not just at the beginning?
  5. Communications and engagement. Is there the right communications at the right time to the right people? Is the balance right – not enough communications versus too much?  Have we involved and engaged the right people at the right time?
  6. Decision making (aka Governance). Are decisions being made by the right people in a timely manner? Do we know which projects need a full steering committee (or equivalent) versus those that an executive sponsor (supported by key stakeholders) is adequate? Do we have agreed escalation paths? Is everyone aware of other’s role(s) and responsibilities?
  7. Do we have the right resources, including people with the right skills at the right time in the right quantities? How do we balance BAU duties with project requirements? What are the priorities? How do we work out the optimum contractor/employee mix? What about managing third parties and the challenges of contracts?

Common enough project challenges I hear you say; many of us have faced (and are facing) such challenges. But understanding the root cause and focussing on addressing these can be a challenge in its own right.

A practical and holistic approach is to map these key challenges to the perspectives reviewed as part of a project management maturity assessment.

A P3M3® (Portfolio, Programme and Project Management Maturity Model) assessment determines how well an organisation manages its projects on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the most basic level and 5 being the most advanced level. A Level 3 achievement denotes that the organisation concerned has well-defined processes and has evidenced good compliance to these.

7 P3M3 Perspectives – Addressing Key Challenges

An assessment typically looks at where an organisation is today, where it needs to be, and addressing the gap between the two. In recognising behaviours and challenges commonly experienced, such an assessment can steer an organisation in establishing practices required for projects to be successful.

The 7 perspectives (aligning with the 7 key challenges) are:

  • Management Control
  • Benefits Management
  • Financial Management
  • Risk Management
  • Stakeholder Management
  • Organisational Governance
  • Resource Management

If you need to assess current performance and prioritise plans to deliver improvements based on value, speak to us today to find out how we can help you. 1300 70 13 14.

P3M3® is registered trade mark of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited.

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