Enterprise System Spectator blog: ERP and enterprise system vendor evaluation, selection, and implementation.

The Enterprise System Spectator

Monday, December 18, 2006

Project management: the missing discipline

Tom Mochal, writing for Tech Republic, has a good piece on why organizations fail at project management. His top reason? Organization don't know how to implement culture change. He writes:
Most organizations don't know how to manage culture change in general and project management in particular. You can't just train people and turn them loose. You can't just buy MS Project and turn people loose. You have to have a long-term, multi-faceted approach to managing culture change. It takes hard work and resources. Most organizations aren't committed to focus on the culture change long-term, and they don't want to spend any resources to do it. Is it any wonder then, that six months later, project management deployment ends up in the trash pile of culture change initiatives that have all failed in the past?
I would state Tom's reason more generally: project management and change management are not well-developed disciplines in many organizations. Through many years of experience, most managers are good at managing day-to-day operations. The most successful are good at budgeting, hiring, motivating subordinates, maintaining relationships, organizing the work, and managing performance--in other words, all the things it takes to keep a functional group operating effectively.

But what happens when an organization is undergoing change? The skills that are needed to manage ongoing operations are not the same as those needed to change those operations. For example, managers who only work with day-to-day operations probably do not have basic project management skills such as defining objectives, breaking down the project into discrete tasks and activities, planning and estimating costs and schedules, identifying the critical path, analyzing risks, and developing contingency plans.

Why ERP initiatives fail
This explains why many enterprise system projects such as ERP fail. Although selecting the wrong system is a sure fire path to disaster, ERP projects generally do not fail because of software problems. ERP initiatives fail because organizations think that ERP is a computer project. But ERP's use of computers does not make ERP a computer project. It is an organizational change initiative. If successful, it will change how many groups and individuals do their jobs.

After hearing war stories from other companies with ERP, executives may understand that ERP projects are difficult to manage. But many do not understand that project management, as Mochal points out, is more than just a set of tools such as MS Project. It is about dealing with the human and cultural issues surrounding change and getting people to accept and implement change. It also takes special skills in change management such as recognizing cultural and political impediments to change, identifying organizational incentives that encourage wrong behavior, team building, negotiating, and resolving conflicts--skills that many otherwise good managers do not have, because they do not have to lead the effort for change very often.

How can an organization be successful in project management? First, by recognizing that project management is not a core skill of most managers and appreciating the change management aspects of project management, as I've pointed out. Second, by treating project management as a formal discipline within the organization.

The project management office
Many companies elevate project management as a discipline by establishing a project management office (PMO). The PMO can function as a center-of-excellence: training, advising, and coaching line-of-business managers in project management. Or, it can function as a home for the project managers themselves, assigning project managers to projects in the business units as needed. Or, it can be a combination of the two.

Regardless of how the PMO is organized, the main point is that project management, including the cultural elements of change management, must be recognized and developed as a key discipline in the organization.

Related posts
Computer Economics: Staffing for Project Management and the PMO

by Frank Scavo, 12/18/2006 09:54:00 AM | permalink | e-mail this!

 Reader Comments:

We need to change the term project management to something that doesn't sound like anyone who can create a list can be a PM. It's not about tracking hours and updating charts, it's about getting results. And this is a people challenge.

Project management, properly executed is a high level, high value activity.

Maybe we should call it RESULTS MANAGEMENT!

Paul Sita
Innovative IT Consulting.
psita@innovativeitc.com
 
I couldn't agree more. As a Project Manager (certified too - PMP), I find many firms think a project manager is someone who uses MS Project. The "big three" - cost, schedule, resources - are administrative factors. There are many other dimensions necessary for success, such as leadership, organizational culture, and experience. I will be researching these parameters beginning in July 2007 for my dissertation, which will be oriented toward success factors in Projects.
 
Post a Comment
 

Links to this post:


 

Powered by Blogger

(c) 2002-2016, Frank Scavo.

Independent analysis of issues and trends in enterprise applications software and the strengths, weaknesses, advantages, and disadvantages of the vendors that provide them.

About the Enterprise System Spectator.

Frank Scavo Send tips, rumors, gossip, and feedback to Frank Scavo, at .

I'm interested in hearing about best practices, lessons learned, horror stories, and case studies of success or failure.

Selecting a new enterprise system can be a difficult decision. My consulting firm, Strativa, offers assistance that is independent and unbiased. For information on how we can help your organization make and carry out these decisions, write to me.

My IT research firm, Computer Economics provides metrics for IT management, such as IT spending and staffing benchmarks, ROI/TCO studies, outsourcing statistics, and more.


Go to latest postings


Search the Spectator!
Join over 1,700 subscribers on the Spectator email list!
Max. 1-2 times/month.
Easy one-click to unsubscribe anytime.

Follow me on Twitter
My RSS feed RSS News Feed

Computer Economics
ERP Support Staffing Ratios
Outsourcing Statistics
IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks
IT Staffing Ratios
IT Management Best Practices
Worldwide Technology Trends
IT Salary Report

Get these headlines on your site, free!


Awards

2014 Best Independent ERP Blog - Winner

2013 Best ERP Writer - Winner

Alltop. We're kind of a big deal.
 
Constant Contact 2010 All Star Technobabble Top 100 Analyst Blogs


Key References
Strativa: Business strategy consulting, strategic planning
Strativa: IT strategy consulting
Strativa: Business process improvement, process mapping, consultants
Strativa: IT due diligence
Strativa: ERP software selection consulting and vendor evaluation
Strativa: CRM software selection consulting and vendor evaluation
Strativa: Project management consulting, change management
StreetWolf: Digital creative studio specializing in web, mobile and social applications
Enterprise IT News: diginomica


Spectator Archives
May 2002
June 2002
July 2002
August 2002
September 2002
October 2002
November 2002
December 2002
January 2003
February 2003
March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
June 2003
July 2003
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
September 2012
October 2012
December 2012
January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
September 2013
October 2013
December 2013
January 2014
February 2014
March 2014
April 2014
May 2014
June 2014
July 2014
August 2014
September 2014
October 2014
November 2014
December 2014
February 2015
March 2015
April 2015
May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
September 2015
October 2015
November 2015
February 2016
May 2016
June 2016
July 2016
August 2016
September 2016
Latest postings