Project Management in Technical Projects: Isn’t this a line item that I can remove?

Project Management

In numerous engagements, and working both in the position of the client and the consultant, I have been continually asked about the value of project management.  I often hear questions like this:

  • My budget has been reduced.  Do we really need project management services on this project?
  • We have an FTE that will be responsible for this project.  Why do I need to hire a vendor project manager also?
  • Project management is expensive.  Is it necessary?
  • I don’t understand project management.  Seems like just another “fee” to me.  Does the project manager just provide status reports?  Surely, we can pull together our own status reports.

Let’s start to address these questions by reviewing a few of the statistics provided by a PMSolutions report titled, “The State of the PMO 2010“.  This study found the following value benchmarks:

PMO Value Benchmarks

Another study was completed in 2007 by PricewaterhouseCoopers, titled, “Insights and Trends: Current Program and Project Management Practices.”  This study found the following:

  • 80 percent of higher performing projects used a certified project manager
  • 50 percent of project failure was traceable to poor (or no) project management (Bad estimates/deadlines, Scope changes, Poor resource planning).
Certification Versus Project Performance

Certification Versus Project Performance

Reasons for Project Failure

Reasons for Project Failure

Outside of these facts, I have personally found project management to be of extreme value on technical projects.  You commonly hear the value proposition explained as:

  • Better expectation-setting through up-front estimating, planning, and project definition.
  • Faster execution through the reuse of common processes and templates.
  • Fewer project problems encountered when utilizing proactive project management processes.
  • Better organizational decision making through more effective project communication.
  • Higher client satisfaction and less rework by building a higher quality product the first time.

For technical projects, project managers become even more valuable.  They generally grow within an organization into a project management role.  This infuses a lot of great technical knowledge into the project and can help tremendously to ensure that the right architecture is being put in place and the minimal rework is being done.  This equates to cost savings and efficiency.

If you are considering the proposition of hiring a vendor project manager, the vendor project manager will not only have this technical knowledge, but they will also be invaluable when securing vendor resources for the project and managing through their own organization.  Many BI organizations are a combination of M&As that have taken place.  You will need help in navigating their corporate structure and avoiding pitfalls in their technology!

I’ll leave you with what I felt was a good representation of the project management process.  My question to the skeptics is:  why wouldn’t you want this structure and value as an integral part of your project?  I would.

Project Management Cycle

Project Management Cycle

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One thought on “Project Management in Technical Projects: Isn’t this a line item that I can remove?

  1. Pingback: Portfolio, Program and Project Management | Anton van den Berg - Blog

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