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Are you banging the wall rather than beating the drum?

Forty-five per cent of project management professionals are ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ dissatisfied with the current level of project management maturity in their organisation, according to The State of Project Management Annual Survey 2016, conducted by Wellingtone and the APM PMO Specific Interest Group. This can be a serious source of frustration. Project success is often a stretch target, without compounding the complexity of the mission with poor governance, methodology and process.

When I talk to project professionals that fit into this category, they often spend a great deal of time spinning wheels, trying to establish process, or ‘fighting the machine’. In these situations, senior managers are often uneducated about best-practice project management; they simply impose end dates and want it done.  

You have a choice. You can either muddle on, stand firm and fix it – or look elsewhere. These aren’t great choices, but there we are. 

For now, let’s focus on the ‘look elsewhere’ option. If and when you are at an interview for any project professional role, ask about project management maturity. For example: does the organisation have a project methodology? Does it have a clear understanding of the role of project sponsor? And (my favourite), how many live projects is it running? It’s a simple question, but nothing is more telling than when a bunch of senior people can’t give an exact figure or indeed have no common source for this type of information.  

Make sure you really know what you are letting yourself in for when looking to join an organisation. Will you join a great community of practitioners or be set adrift to battle on your own? Maybe you enjoy the challenge, and maybe you can be the catalyst for improvements. But, whatever your preference, make sure you go into  a new role with ‘eyes wide open’.  Ask questions at the interview. The interviewer’s responses will be more telling than anything else. How frustrated are they?


Other blogs in this series:

This blog first appeared as an article in the Spring 2016 edition of  Project Journal.

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