Thursday, 17 May 2018

Sack the Project Manager? Maybe Not.

There are two schools of thought in project management about the choice of a leader for a project. One says that the person who led the bid team and secured the contract should continue with the delivery of the project and see it through to the end. He (or she) knows the project, knows the client, knows how the programme was built up, understands the financial base and knows “where the bodies are buried”. They can provide continuity throughout the project. 

The opposite view is that a bid manager is usually a completely different type of person from one who knows how to motivate a diverse workforce in a big engineering design and construction project and therefore a new project manager should be installed to run the project when the contract is signed. 

I think the jury is still out on which option to take but, when a big project starts to go wrong and the troubles are elevated to board level, the natural reaction in some companies is to sack the project manager and replace him with “someone who can get the job done”.

This is usually a futile exercise, since there is little chance of recovering any delay while the new PM learns the real depth of the “doodie” that he’s been dropped into and gets to know his team, and it will usually lose still more time. 

Throwing more resources into the project won’t necessarily help either. Soon people will be falling over each other. Perhaps what is needed is a careful assessment of the workflow and the steps needed to clear the path ahead to the ultimate objectives.