Latest questions to consultants

Question: My Company makes many projects during the year, and I am responsible of many of them. Management wants to deploy a Project Management Office (PMO), but I am not quite sure. Is it really necessary to set up a PMO??

Project Management Consultants answer: A PMO it is often convenient, and can always be used, as it offers great help and substantially support to Project Managers, regardless of being an internal PMO office or a subcontracted external company.

Once we have cleared this point, then we answer your question: it is not strictly necessary but strongly recommended. You could create the PMO and become part of it; you lose nothing with the idea, and win a lot of advantages with a PMO. As that office is normally composed by experimented and skilled Project Managers that participate actively in the projects they serve, you could also become part of it. Try to guess your position inside and try to train future Project Managers to help you manage your Company projects portfolio.
If numbers recommend so, your company can always externalize the PMO services, depending on your necessities.
Learn more about Project Management Office.

Question: We make huge, several million dollars projects, and they normally fail, or need many adjusts. I have tried to apply best-practice recommendations for Project Management, but they haven’t helped me. What should I try?

Project Management Consultants answer: Megaprojects tend naturally to fail. There exist common causes to these frustrating results. The most common are:

  • As huge projects have great visibility by public opinion, enterprise high-level environment or newspapers, and many of these projects are partly or totally paid by public resources, political affairs normally affect the project activities. Next elections can be the cause of a downturn in the project evolution. The same happens even with private Megaprojects.
  • Megaprojects are affected by hundreds of different stakeholders, because final project result normally affects dramatically businesses and lives of entire communities (i.e.: a certain huge bridge inauguration will cause the Bill’s Boat Transport Company go to bankruptcy, so Bill is totally against the bridge). Thus, considerations of how to manage stakeholders are much more necessary in Megaprojects than in smaller projects.
  • Financial problems are also a common cause of headache, as Megaprojects are very beautiful in the minds of those who planned and promoted the initiatives, but difficult to achieve with many real budgets. Some of these projects are planned for a long, long time, with scarce funds, in the hope that future incomes will refill the accounts. But not always this happens, and costs overrun are common in the long term.
  • Risks involved with Megaprojects are the same size of the project, and require special attention and control, generally by putting money and time. And as figures to mitigate or avoid a risk are astonishingly huge, often solutions are disregarded. And when risk becomes a fact, consequences are normally devastating.
  • Management of Megaprojects is commonly split, being spread among many Project Managers, teams, PMO’s, external consultants, subcontractors, etc., and sometimes with great turnover, because different stakeholders want to participate. In the absence of a strong figure that leads and, specially, assumes responsibility, project administration becomes a chaos.
  • Lastly, but no less important, Megaprojects take a long, long time to be accomplished. They are welcome at the beginning of the design, but after a certain time people lose their interest, people change, and their interests are oriented to other issues; thus, support to Megaproject fades. People want short term returns to their effort.

To avoid the Megaproject Paradox, we recommend you to study the points described above, and report your management and Sponsors if you see that something must be changed.
We encourage you to split Megaprojects into smaller projects in size and extension, with determined and clear objectives, and short-term milestones, if possible. This resolves many of the issues described above, but remember that nothing you’ll do is a warranty for success, unless all the variables would be in your hands.
Learn more about Megaprojects.