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Author: Mike Morton

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Implementing IT Governance – A Perspective

Today businesses rely on information technology (IT) as an integral part of their overall enterprise strategy. For the same very reason, a new field of thought called IT governance has been under development for several years. Just as business management is governed by generally accepted good practices, IT should be governed by practices that help ensure

  • An enterprise’s IT resources are used responsibly
  • Risks are managed appropriately
  • Information and related technology support business objectives

In other word IT governance is the process by which decisions are made around IT investments.

Although the level of maturity and acceptance of IT Governance varies considerably across different organizations and sectors but a number of different views emerge in its favor. These view, though present conflicting arguments but favor the implementation of IT Governance.

IT alignment to the business is the highest rated driver and outcome of IT Governance practices. A large majority of organizations recognize the importance of IT alignment in order to deliver sustainable business results, and feel IT Governance is the best means to achieve this. A general understanding among all the organizations and their CIOs is

“The successful application of IT Governance principles can provide a mechanism to increase the effectiveness of IT and, in turn, meet the increasingly high demands from business for IT.”

The results of effective IT governance can be transformational. The current climate of cost reduction and budget restriction has resulted in new norm – there is an expectation that IT resources should always be used as efficiently as possible and that steps are taken to organize these IT resources ready for the next cycle of growth and new IT developments. There is a wide acceptance of the fact that the IT Governance is required and investment in IT to deliver full value, it is recognized that IT has to be fully aligned to business strategies and direction. Implementing right governance for IT, business aligned strategy and right set of IT Governance tools can provides a large number of benefits for organizations. These benefits can be observed by all the stake holders in the organization through different means and metrics.

Executive Management: Executive management will see the improvement in the quality of IT services over time. There is also a reduced failure of IT projects, minimizing risk and saving cost.

Business Owners: For business owners there is major reduction of IT risk over time. There is also a reduction in cost of delivering IT service over time.

Other Managers: For other managers in an organization they will experience enhanced delivery of IT Services.

All IT Workers: Projects undertaken are followed up as well as operations in the organization. This leads to fewer surprises and less frustration. As an organization starts implementing IT Governance tools, more benefits will be released and the benefits can be measured.

Though, we talk very highly about the importance of implementing the RIGHT STRATEGY for IT Governance and Organizations spend money and effort in that direction, but there remains the fact that IT governance implementations fail, and lead to a disastrous results for the stakeholders. Moreover, IT Governance is still very much associated with fulfilling control or compliance requirements rather than it being an overarching framework that can be used to enhance the value of IT for the organization. There can be an unending debate about the reasons of the failure but let us accept the fact that the risk of IT Governance and Management failure is not so trivial. Gartner, on one hand, says 50 per cent of projects are rolled back out of production, Carnegie Mellon, on the other, says 25 to 40 per cent of all spending on projects is wasted as a result of re-work.

Despite these frequent reminders on the costly consequences, there is still evidence that many organizations do not place sufficient executive attention on this issue.

“We’ve always done it this way.”

That simple sentence has probably been uttered millions of times in businesses around the world. Usually, the people who say it are sincere; thinking the way they work adds value to the business. This always leads to a situation where “IT Governance is driven by top management”, and is often associated with ‘strong’ CIOs who have the full support of executive management, with a resultant reduction in the risk that the implementation effort will be faced with staff and business management resistance.

“What is the value add out of it.”

The benefits of implementing IT Governance are not measured and are difficult to quantify. In many instances the desired benefits are not defined upfront, which makes it impossible to measure them. When some organization went out to measure the performance of IT Governance practices, they start by measuring how it works in terms of performance indicators, but only a small number of them measure hard benefits or the eventual outcomes of the governance practices.

How to overcome challenges

Responding effectively and better executive support, a growing number of experts believe that can help the situation. Part of the problem is attitudinal, where many organizations view this as another unfunded mandate; a needless expense far removed from any kind of profit center. In our view, effective IT Governance needs to draw on 2 things –

Implementing right governance body

According to the IT Governance Institute, IT governance is the responsibility of the board of directors and the executive management, and is an integral part of enterprise governance. It elevates information as a key organizational asset and treats governance of information at par with governance of other assets like human, financial, intellectual, and relationship assets.

Governance body is extremely important and foremost step in implementing the IT governance tool. It is expected that this body / structure within the organization will define expectations, grant power, and verify performance. This body also establishes the strategic, operational, and technical decision-making process which is extremely critical. This helps to manage sourcing, assign trained and capable resources to govern sourcing relationships; put appropriate processes, escalation procedure to keep an open dialogue, create the disciplines around monitoring, reporting, changes, and feedback, and employ the right tools.  

Each organization is unique in terms of their vision, set of customers and processes and should evolve its own governance model based on its own particular circumstances. Organizations which have no IT governance at all should start small and steady with an advisory body with strategic planning, standards making, and project prioritization and should also add more functions to the governing body as it and the organization matures. These organizations that are employing some form of IT governance may wish to expand their body further into decision-making and performance management.

Governance body need to decide who will decide when it comes to verifying performance, defining what is accepted. This is often controlled by the size of the organization and at what level the governance committee has authority over implementation. Many believe that IT governance should sit at the highest level of the organization and should strictly the domain of CIOs, CEOs, and department heads. This is unfortunate because these same principals can scale down to the department level or even smaller business units. There is room for IT governance wherever there are decisions to be made regarding how to utilize technology resources to make a unit function better. Rather than only heads, the whole team commitment added innumerable edge in implementing an IT governance tool successfully.  

To attain the optimal results, the IT governance body should be responsible for the following:

  • Establishing and communicating an organization-wide IT vision that supports the mission and goals
  • Establishing IT policies that support strategic & IT priorities
  • Establish and control the overall budget for total spend
  • Suggesting or recommending technical architecture and standards
  • Establishing best practices and recommended governance tool

Implementing a Governance Tool

Other than deciding what role IT governance body is going to play in the organization, Tools for managing IT governance can be developed, created in-house or purchased from a third party vendor. Tools provided by third parties are maturing and growing in popularity. There is nothing like one size fits all when creating or adopting IT governance tool.

Organization should select that tool which could facilitate governance and improve their reporting, automate and standardize processes, simplify and reduce administrative burdens; improve staff effectiveness to optimize scarce resources; and reduce the overall costs of governance.

Organization need to understand strengths and weaknesses of the leading tools and match them with their growing and immediate needs. They should also be ready to invest in proof of concept and generate a set of real life working conditions against which tool can tested.

Implementing IT governance tool is an important step in becoming a more responsive IT entity in today’s ever increasing challenging world. This process should be approached with all the planning, research, and resources that are fitting a major project or program for your organization.

The needs of the organizations could revolve around the below areas:

  • Performance measurement and reporting
  • Financial analysis, reporting and processing
  • Contract management
  • Process automation and workflow
  • New ideas generation and conceptualization

A department-level, division-level, or bureau-level IT manager has no reason to shy away from this process. Organization should make sure that its stays in sync with the goals and objectives and strategic vision of the governance committee of organization’s higher body.

Challenges and way forward

Organizations should approach this very meticulously while selecting and implementing the IT governance tool. Many of the tools cover only with some limited capabilities which may not fulfill all the needs (immediate and future). To get the entire desired functionalities one may consider buying multiple applications and a varied degree of customization. Below are some pointers when it comes to selecting and implementing a sourcing governance tool from third party vendor.

  1. Carefully consider and document your requirements
  2. Consider the internal tool landscape
  3. Costs for licensing and implementation vary widely
  4. Understand the different solutions on the market
  5. Conduct a proof of concept as part of the selection process

Case Study

A big IT organization’s management team including Project Management, Program management, Service management and Demand Management wanted to implement IT governance tool to streamline their processes. With a list of domain experts with diverse experience, they had an internal session where they nailed the problem and decided to implement a tool. It was a rigorous process to select right tool and implement and this took almost 6 months of duration. To everyone’s surprise, this tool was rejected after 6 months of Go-live claiming this does not fit organization needs. Another tool was evaluated with a lot of brain storming sessions and finally implemented. This tool also failed to live up to expectation and could not yield the desired results.

Now the question, “Is there really a tool which can help this organization?” This led to engaging a professional team to evaluate and recommend right tool. Professional team, after a month’s study suggested the same tool which was rejected few months back. In their finding, they clearly identified the gaps and documented those.

  1. A tool can strengthen existing process but will fail if process does not exist
  2. A tool can bring in transparency but cannot force compliance to process
  3.  A tool can enhance reporting but will fail to add value unless reports are analyzed and corrective actions are taken

An assumption that implementing IT governance tool will solve all the existing organizational problems is like taking the first step in wrong direction. Process owners need to revamp and make sure that processes exist at the first place before they look outside for a governance tool to implement and expect it to work efficiently. No tool in the world can optimize a non-existent process. The Governance body must look inward first to make sure that processes are there to be optimized and people are mature enough to embrace the change which the tool will bring.

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The Complete Project Manager: Building the Right Set of Skills for Greater Project Success


Success in any environment largely depends upon completing successful projects, and successful projects get done by skilled project managers and teams, supported by effective project sponsors. Integration of knowledge and skills makes the difference in who achieves greater optimized outcomes. A Complete Project Manager integrates key people, team, business, organizational, and technical skills. Part One posed an organic analog from molecular chemistry and shared insights, experiences, and examples intended to motivate action towards embracing an integrated approach to the complete project manager. We began the process of identifying key skills. Part Two continues the quest to identify and apply additional skills.

Project Management Skills

Complete project managers build upon the foundation established by PMI’s Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (see Figure 2). Our goal is to add insights and examples as aids for complete project managers in their quest to make sense of and apply the PMBOK®.

A common shortcoming is to focus on a benefit you are providing (an output) and not articulating the benefit of the benefit (the outcome—value in business terms). Outputs are actual deliverables or products/services. Outcomes are the success criteria or measurable result of successful completion of the outputs. Emphasis is often placed on collecting outputs with little attention paid to outcomes. But outputs may have little intrinsic value unless they are linked to outcomes. For example, a complete project manager might state, “By initiating a project office to coordinate our portfolio of projects [output], we select the right projects to meet our strategic goals and provide the key set of services required by our end users [outcome].” These statements have a strong project management process behind them.

Environment Skills

More systemic and widespread progress is possible than in any other area when complete project managers focus attention on creating project-friendly environmental conditions. The same approaches applied by equally talented managers may have quite different outcomes depending upon the culture, operating principles, structure, customs, procedures, and values in place. We refer not to the physical environment but to the surrounding interrelationships among people that permeate how and what happens in an organization. These are the man-made artifacts that overlay the physical environment.

TCPM Fig 2

It is increasingly likely that multicultural teams become the norm in most environments. The complete project manager needs to be sensitive to the impact of culture on every project…and how to create an effective culture.

Complete project managers embrace chaos as a natural operating force. A firm grasp of purpose is the means to prosper in any environment. It is also important to take social responsibility for being a good citizen in the larger context of the surrounding environment.

To be successful, it is necessary to assess the current environment (see Graham and Englund, 2004) and understand the forces driving all behaviors. With this knowledge in place, it becomes possible to know how to approach project based work with a higher probability of success, based upon reality based knowledge of how people operate in a specific environment. Putting this knowledge to work happens in preparing and executing action plans.

Organizational Skills

An imperative facing complete project managers in all organizations is not only to embark on a quest to manage project management processes, but also to execute projects within “green” organizations that encourage project-based work. A “green” organization is better positioned not only to survive but to prosper, even in difficult times. 

Usage of “green” terminology in this context extends the physical, tangible thinking about our environment into the non-physical, intangible relationships that affect working environments among people in an organization. In this sense, “green” is good, productive, and desirable, allowing people to work as natural, organic living systems are intended to do. Examples would be:

  • trust among colleagues and management is ever present
  • cooperation instead of competition is the norm
  • a common sense of purpose provides sustenance and meaning to all activities
  • a shared vision brings clarity to the direction of work
  • people fully communicate with each other regularly
  • individuals are respected, able to express their creativity, and have power to influence others through positive persuasive techniques

On the other hand, “toxic” working environments are permeated by mistrust, failures to communicate, burdensome reporting requirements, misguided metrics, and cutthroat tactics. Negative political practices create uneasiness and frustration among all except those who wield them with power.

A toxic element might be managers who barely understand or appreciate the project management process, and they make demands or decisions that are short-sighted. A green element is leaders who engage their people in open discussion, and possible dissent, to determine the best way to proceed on a complex project.

We believe these “green” aspects are necessary for complete project managers to buy into, create, and support.  Without this approach, people and organizations are often doomed to failures, overruns, and dissatisfied stakeholders. Each person has the power within him or her to embrace this thinking and act upon it every day.

Negotiating Skills

The results delivered by projects depend upon what you negotiate. Everything is negotiable, both at work and in everyday lives. It is in your best interest, and for your team and organization, that you embrace negotiating as a requisite skill…and implement it dutifully. Negotiating is fun, and it is productive. As you develop negotiating skills via learning and practice, people come to respect you more rather than perceiving that you are challenging their professionalism. Take a negotiating course, read the books, change your attitude to apply the concepts, especially win-win, be prepared, patience, believe you ARE a good negotiator (of course each of us can improve but that is another story)…, and you will be grateful every day that you made this shift.

We see it over and over again how simply asking for something during a discussion results in a better outcome. The other party can always say no, and no harm is done. That party may say yes or counter propose, and each side is happy with the outcome. Get something in exchange for every concession. Complete project managers owe it to themselves and their partners to engage in negotiations. The time is now to view everything as negotiable.

Political Skills

Complete project managers understand the power structure in their organizations. Clues to a power structure may come from an organizational chart, but how things get done goes far beyond that. Influence exists in people’s hearts and minds, where power derives more from legitimacy than from authority. Its presence occurs in the implementation of decisions.

Improving organizational performance depends upon getting more accomplished through projects. Just what gets accomplished and how comes under the purview of power and politics. Organizations by their nature are political.  The political process is always at work in organizations. To be effective, project managers need to become politically sensitive. Encourage excellence in project sponsorship by managing up the organization (see Englund and Bucero, 2006).

Assessing the environment, rethinking attitudes towards power and politics, and developing an effective political plan are foundation steps. These help to address the power structure in an organization, identify critical stakeholder levels of trust and agreement, develop a guiding coalition, and determine areas of focus.

An overlay to the project management process is to prepare a political plan. This plan involves observing how an organization gets work done and performing stakeholder analysis. It further incorporates creative human dynamics to encourage proactive thinking about how to respond to and influence other people in the organization. Complete project managers develop political plans as well as effective project plans.

Conflict Management Skills

In situations that matter the most, we often perform at our worst. A basic question to ask is, “What is at stake here?”  To avoid failure, the solution is to conduct a learning conversation which means to engage in dialogue with a free flow of meaning. Figure 3 depicts the flow from challenges to options:

TCPM Fig 3

Here are suggested steps for achieving dialogue in a learning conversation:

  • Begin from the third story—not your story or the other person’s story, but how an impartial observer would describe the conflict or situation; also could be an alternate story creating an ideal situation.
  • Explain your purpose and extend an invitation.  It is always wise to ask people if it is okay to give them feedback or share constructive criticism.
  • Explore their story to demonstrate empathic understanding.
  • Share your own story that brings personal learnings into the dialogue.
  • Take the lead in problem solving.

Sales Skills

Know that you are continuously in sales cycles throughout project life cycles. Be not a victim of lost sales or opportunities. Embrace the sales process as the means to secure necessary commitments in a genuine manner worthy of a complete project manager.

The classic sales approach, applicable to almost any environment, is to cover features, benefits, and advantages, as depicted in Figure 4. Seek compelling wording and arguments.

If you know not what the customer, team member, or sponsor most cares about, you may need to describe all features of your product, project, or solution. A better approach is to ask questions, listen, and then focus on what the other party truly cares about. Provide details, a prototype, or a demonstration so that person clearly understands what the key features of your proposal are. “This Project Management Office (PMO) addresses a key deficiency in the organization by providing a complete document management and retrieval system. Let me show you how it works….”

Describe the benefits that accrue after these features are implemented, “This system relieves in-field consultants from time-consuming, low value-added activities, provides increased quality assurance within the project delivery process through access to most up-to-date documents, and serves as a breeding ground for knowledge sharing.”

TCPM Fig 4

Project how these benefits provide a competitive advantage for the organization, “Implementing this system means our customers will be served by the latest technology with error free documentation, leading to more repeat business, and field consultants can spend more time addressing both existing and new customer requirements and turning them into sales.”

Follow a selling process that facilitates relationship building with buyers. Be dedicated to serve others and present to them what they really need. Probe for issues through carefully crafted, open-ended questions.

Change Management Skills

Project leaders do not like change any more than followers do unless, of course, it is their idea. Change is hard for everyone. You cannot move forward and stay the same at the same time. People resist change for several reasons:

People resist change because of personal loss. A key obligation of a project manager is to talk to stakeholders about how that change will affect them.

People resist change because of fear of the unknown. Project managers need to communicate both knowns and unknowns throughout project life cycles.

People resist change because they were not part of the decision-making or implementation design process or because of bad timing.

People resist change because it feels awkward. Accepting change as part of project lives means exposure to a variety of new and possibly uncomfortable situations. A complete project manager is willing to experiment, assess personal and others’ reactions and behaviors, and seek a path towards progress.

People resist change because of tradition. Many professionals have managed projects without applying a formal methodology for many years. As organizations grow in terms of people and project complexity, the need arises to implement a formal PM methodology.

The keys to dealing with change successfully are having a good attitude toward it and being prepared to meet it. Understand the change management process:  create the conditions for change, make change happen, and make change “stick.” Change will happen whether you like it or not. Without change there can be no improvement.  Complete project managers make a commitment to pay the price for change. Change needs to happen within you before it can happen around you. It is never too late to change.

Market and Customer Knowledge

Success in the market place is the usual source of positive cash flow. Successful projects bring vitality into an organization. As a key contributor to these outcomes, project managers are well advised to be aware of what is happening in the market and make appropriate decisions that positively influence the cash flow resulting from project outcomes.

What we must never forget is that customers pay the bills and our salaries. Bosses, of course, are important to our well-being and futures, but if customers go away or stop doing business with us, everybody suffers. There are internal customers as well who depend on project outputs and outcomes. Complete project managers have an obligation to attend to all customers.

All projects have a customer. Complete project managers take care to understand market forces and customer satisfaction issues that guide them on to successful projects. Apply servant leadership skills. Implement ethical practices in all interactions.


Your fate as a complete project manager is up to you. We have opened doors, proposed a structure, and shared thoughts, insights, and experiences. More detailed examples and a toolkit are available in our two volumes on The Complete Project Manager. As depicted in the ever expanding molecular structure of organic chemistry, as well as the potential of social networking, infinite combinations of skills are possible. Greater project success comes to those who integrate skills from multiple disciplines. What will be your path? Achieving completeness is an unending—and thoroughly satisfying—journey. The rest of the story is in your hands….


Assessment (EASI), Action Plan, and Political Plan templates. Retrieve from, “Offerings”.

Bucero, Alfonso (2010). Today Is A Good Day, Ontario (Canada): Multimedia Publications.

Englund, Randall and Bucero, Alfonso (2006). Project Sponsorship: Achieving Management Commitment for Project Success, San Francisco: Jossey Bass Publishers.

Englund, Randall & Bucero, Alfonso (2012). The Complete Project Manager: Integrating People, Organizational, and Technical Skills. Vienna, VA: Management Concepts.

Englund, Randall & Bucero, Alfonso (2012). The Complete Project Manager’s Toolkit. Vienna, VA: Management Concepts.

Goleman, Boyatzis, McKee (2002). Primal Leadership. Harvard Business Press.

Graham, Robert J. and Englund, Randall L (2004). Creating an Environment for Successful Projects:  Second Edition. San Francisco: Jossey Bass Publishers.

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Randall L. Englund, MBA, BSEE, NPDP, CBM, is an author, speaker, trainer, professional facilitator, and consultant for the Englund Project Management Consultancy ( He also facilitates project management seminars for the Project Management Institute as well as conducts courses at University of California extensions and for other professional associations. Randy applies an organic approach to optimize processes that create an environment for more successful projects.

Alfonso Bucero, MSc, PMP (Project Management Professional), is the founder and Managing Partner of BUCERO PM Consulting, REP ( received the PMI Distinguished Contribution Award in 2010 for his long and varied body of work and was designated as a Fellow of the Institute in 2011. He delivers PM training and consulting services in countries world-wide.Alfonso defends Passion, Persistence and Patience as vital keys for project success.

The Complete Project Manager

Part one: Building the Right Set of Skills for Greater Project Success


Success in any environment largely depends upon completing successful projects, and successful projects get done by skilled project managers and teams, supported by effective project sponsors. Integration of knowledge and skills makes the difference in who achieves greater optimized outcomes. A Complete Project Manager integrates key people, team, business, organizational, and technical skills. Part One poses an organic analog from molecular chemistry and shares insights, experiences, and examples intended to motivate action towards embracing an integrated approach to the complete project manager. We begin the process of identifying key skills. Part Two continues the quest to identify and apply additional skills.


While many professionals develop their craft through advanced education and on the job experiences, there comes a time when an enhanced skill set and a new perspective about working with people is necessary in order to advance to the next level of performance. How do you move beyond this plateau? We believe in an holistic approach to open eyes, minds, … and doors, so that changed thinking can be applied immediately within each organizational environment. The “right” set of skills to achieve “completeness” depends on individual starting points, aptitude, attitude, desires, and supporting context.

Many people are not aware of the need for them to change their thinking and of how this mindset inhibits their performance. The complete project manager adopts, adapts, and applies a different approach, leading to more consistent, timely, and quality results. This can happen because project managers apply necessary leadership, influence, sales, and negotiating skills that had previously been overlooked or under applied. With conscious application of these skills, project managers get recognized through achieving business outcomes that had heretofore eluded them. The goal is to achieve greater levels of personal satisfaction and professional advancement.

Learning Objectives:

  • Change thinking about necessary skills to enhance on the job performance
  • Apply an organic approach to leading and managing projects
  • Realize what needs to be done to achieve better results and how to do it
  • Further develop project or program management professional careers

You may embrace the concept of becoming more “complete”…but also harbor many “enemies of change”—such as not invented here, too busy, not enough time, cognitive blindness, natural reactive processes—that inhibit you from adopting better leadership and management practices. Some of these enemies might be ingrained beliefs, harbored over a lifetime of experiences. We cannot change those beliefs; we can only change the believer. The way to do this is to provide enough evidence and examples that tap the internal motivational drives within you. The next step is for you to implement a complete systems approach that achieves greater results, and is simple yet powerfully—and universally—effective.


We use a complex molecule as a metaphoric graphic for the complete project manager. The intent is to apply our own form of bio mimicry to highlight key concepts.

Our visualization is molecular structure as an organic analogy for the complete project manager. With thanks to and with apologies to the chemical discipline, we map lessons from organic chemistry to the project management profession:

Organic chemistry is a sub discipline within chemistry involving the scientific study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation of carbon-based compounds, hydrocarbons, and their derivatives.

Organic compounds are structurally diverse. The range of application of organic compounds is enormous. They form the basis of, or are important constituents of, many products and almost all earthly life processes.

Project management is the application of knowledge, skills and techniques to execute projects effectively and efficiently. It is a strategic competency for organizations, enabling them to tie project results to business goals and better compete in their markets. Project management brings a unique focus shaped by the goals, resources and schedule of each project. The value of that focus is proved by the rapid, worldwide growth of project management as a recognized and strategic organizational competence in all industries and organizations, as a subject for training and education, and as a career path.

Organic molecules often contain a higher level of complexity compared to purely inorganic compounds, so the synthesis of organic compounds has developed into one of the most important branches of chemistry. Biochemistry—the chemistry of living organisms, their structure and interactions in a controlled environment and inside living systems—opened up a new chapter of organic chemistry with enormous scope. Biochemistry, like organic chemistry, primarily focuses on compounds containing carbon.

Upon realizing that project management is all about people, we are struck by the enormous complexity of interests, styles, approaches, and interactive dynamics that get unleashed when attempting cross-organizational project work. Each day brings new challenges, unheralded actions, and innovations.  Behind it all, we must never forget that we are carbon-based creatures, enormously capable but seldom perfect.

The crucial breakthrough for organic chemistry was the concept of chemical structure, wherein carbon atoms could link to each other to form a carbon lattice, and that the detailed patterns of atomic bonding could be discerned by skillful interpretations of appropriate chemical reactions.

Project management has always been practiced informally, and it began to emerge as a distinct profession in the mid-20th century. The Project Management Institute’s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) identifies the recurring elements:  the five process groups and the nine knowledge areas. While this guide provides a basic structure for projects, linking to other disciplines is crucial for breakthrough performances.

Early examples of organic reactions and applications were often serendipitous. Then came systematic studies of organic compounds, followed by the synthesis of highly complex molecules via multistep procedures. Total synthesis of complex natural compounds increased in complexity and finally reached commercialization. Pharmaceutical benefits have been substantial. Complexity of total syntheses has been increasing.

Accidental project managers were, and often still are, common—coming into the profession with little knowledge of processes and procedures. The PMBOK® Guide advanced the profession and provides the foundation to build myriad structures capable of producing various outcomes. An ever expanding number of professions and industries are embracing project management, recognizing the benefits of a disciplined approach to create new outcomes. This expansion brings the need for creating new ways to apply established processes…along with the need for practitioners possessing varied skillsets. A robust set of skills provides the leadership to fuse disparate groups into new organizations, through organic growth or mergers, and provide novel or innovative solutions. No longer will one job description suffice for managing projects, programs, and portfolios.

In contrast to many inorganic materials, organic compounds typically melt and many boil. The melting and boiling points correlate with the polarity of the molecules and their molecular weight. Organic compounds are usually not very stable at temperatures above 300 °C.

Such is life. People have their limits, such that they totally disengage and melt away, or they boil over with emotional outbursts. When these occur correlate both to natural personality inclinations and to a set of developed skills. Complete project managers achieve enhanced levels of stability.

New possibilities for achievement and personal advancement can emerge with concentrated intent and research. As in life itself, unlimited combinations are possible for the molecule surrounding complete project managers. There are many ways to assemble successful outcomes. New possibilities will emerge by various combinations of skills.

We offer the picture in Figure 1 as a starting point and assessment tool. Use this picture as a guideline, metric, or outline, and as a journey to build your own “molecules.”

TCPM Fig 1

Leadership and Management Skills

Leadership and management skills are those vital visionary and “can do” competencies so necessary when in a position to influence colleagues, team members, upper managers, clients, and so forth. The complete project manager possesses the lead by example, delegation, charisma, teachability, respect, qualities of leadership, courage, listening, and relationship building skills to interact with people and achieve results.

The thread that runs through all key factors that determine success and failure:  PEOPLE. People do matter. Projects typically do not fail or succeed because of technical factors or because we cannot get electrons traveling faster than the speed of light; they fail or succeed depending on how well people work together. When we lose sight of the importance of people issues, such as clarity of purpose, effective and efficient communications, and management support, then we are doomed to struggle. Engaged people find ways to work through all problems. The challenge for complete project managers is to create environments for people to do their best work.

The complete project manager needs to be both a leader and manager—covering both what to do (vision) and how (execution). This requires placing a priority on understanding and listening to people. Lead by example. Demonstrate a positive attitude. Cultivate relationships up, across, and down the organization.

Identify leadership qualities that have made a difference in your life—people who have influenced you. Study what they did. Be the “teachable” student who continuously learns and applies a flexible approach to leadership.

Know yourself, believe in yourself, take care of yourself first, and then take care of others.

Personal Skills

Personal skills are those vital interaction competencies for dealing with people. The complete project manager possesses the aptitude, attitude, and networking skills to interact with people and achieve results.

Early in our careers, we demonstrated negative attitudes regarding our jobs and towards the projects we managed. That negative disposition generated more problems than advantages. We created negative images of ourselves in front of colleagues, team members and managers. Results were not good—transmitting negativism to managers and team members, tarnishing our reputations, and limiting our options.

The maturing process led us to change our thinking. We needed an attitude check! By changing attitude, we changed our worlds (see Bucero, 2010). This is a fundamental, life changing experience.

Project managers need to be able to motivate and sustain people. Project team members will look to the project manager to solve problems and help remove obstacles. Complete project managers need to be able to address and solve problems within the team, as well as those that occur outside the team. Effective networking is a vital ingredient for success.

Here is the essence of persuasive skills:  it usually makes great sense to repay favors, behave consistently, follow the lead of similar others, favor the requests of those we like, heed legitimate authorities, and value scarce resources.

Being focused on your strengths is a worthy approach that helps you grow personally and professionally, more so than any other “development plan.” All time and money spent to take you to the next level of excellence as a project manager and as a professional are the best investments you can make in your personal career.

The Role of Humor and Fun

The project manager walks into his boss’s office and says, “Here is the bottom line budget needed for the success of the project.” The boss asks, “What can you do for half the money?” The project manager says, “Fail.” The boss asks, “When can you get started?” The project manager says, “I think I just did.”

Observe your reaction to the previous paragraph. Did you laugh quietly, snicker, break out in a hearty laugh,…? People react differently, but just the process of telling that story makes an indelible impact on others. The dialogue between two people starts out very common place and takes an interesting turn, perhaps even one we wished we had the presence of mind to express. The humorous story sets the stage for addressing serious issues, such as success or failure.

We advocate for the use of humor and fun in a complete project manager’s toolkit. We do so because we believe it is effective, productive, and memorable. We cannot prescribe how to create fun in every situation. We can share our commitment to creating fun working environments, with the hope that others may validate and renew their commitment to the same…or else come to a new understanding of the need for “lightening up” some of the serious work of project management.

Humor plays a vital role in getting a person to laugh at situations that may seem overwhelming. One cannot truly laugh and still retain anger or hostility. A project manager’s toolkit is more complete when fun is on the agenda, and every day includes laughter. Life in general and projects specifically seem to flow better and accomplish more when people have fun doing whatever they are doing. Possibly no other single factor provides more benefits than humor and fun. Health, both personally and organizationally, is improved. People want to work together again when they know the experience includes having fun.

Humor may be experienced through the telling of jokes but also may happen through paying attention and making the commitment to the moments in projects that deserve a good laugh. Think differently about various moments encountered throughout a project. Seek a fun path that lightens the load while remaining on target.

To Be Continued…

Check back with us for Part Two where we explore additional skills that complement the complete project manager’s molecule, including project management, negotiating, political, conflict and change management, sales, and customer skills.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below.

Randall L. Englund, MBA, BSEE, NPDP, CBM, is an author, speaker, trainer, professional facilitator, and consultant for the Englund Project Management Consultancy ( He also facilitates project management seminars for the Project Management Institute as well as conducts courses at University of California extensions and for other professional associations. Randy applies an organic approach to optimize processes that create an environment for more successful projects.

Alfonso Bucero, MSc, PMP (Project Management Professional), is the founder and Managing Partner of BUCERO PM Consulting, REP ( received the PMI Distinguished Contribution Award in 2010 for his long and varied body of work and was designated as a Fellow of the Institute in 2011. He delivers PM training and consulting services in countries world-wide. Alfonso defends Passion, Persistence and Patience as vital keys for project success.

Project Management: How has it Changed after the Recent Global Financial Crises?

FEATURESept26thChanges in professions arise from a culmination of many factors, including advances in technology, responses to changing markets and the wider economic environment, alterations in demographic trends, and customer-driven demand, to name just a few. As well as industry-driven advancements, major shifts in the global economy and global events can have a profound, structural effect on a multitude of professions. Major global changes bring about a realization that “We cannot continue to do what we have always done.”

The full impact of the global financial crisis that began in 2008 on all aspects of the economy may take years, or even decades to fully understand. It is arguably true that the crisis has “left its mark” on attitudes towards the project management profession (as it has on many other professions). Some changes have been challenging at an individual level, such as the struggle for many to maintain gainful employment. Other changes have spurred positive adjustments to the way the profession operates, such as fostering a drive for advanced project management processes and a general realization of the importance of project management to controlling outcomes with scarce resources. In this article, we review what some of the post 2008 changes on the project management profession have been.

The post 2008 global economic downturn has been a catalyst for organizations to rethink their processes. The approach to project management (plus program and portfolio management) has, for many organizations, been part of this overall rethink. In many cases, the outcome has led to project management being recognized as a valuable way to provide surety and control of initiatives undertaken. This has led to opportunities and also some challenges for those of us in the profession.

We categorize the key impacts on project management brought about by the financial crisis into three areas: Changes to the Profession, Changes to Methodology, and Changes to the Professional.

Some key changes to the Profession

  • The need to control risk and provide a greater certainty and control of project outcomes has led to an increase in the awareness of project (and for that matter, program and portfolio) risk management. The benefits of effective project risk management are well- documented. Organizations that were previously unfamiliar with project risk practices, or had immature processes in place, have started to explore the benefits of implementing a thorough and rigorous approach to project risk management.
  • A related effect is a greater emphasis on portfolio planning of projects (for whatever industry the organisation is in – construction, oil and gas, pharmaceutical, NGO, IT, etc.). This has created a positive opportunity for those professionals skilled in portfolio management practices.
  • There is an increased interest in credentials and certifications to complement experience. Competition for jobs is fierce, and experience remains as vital as ever. Many professionals are adding credentials and/or certifications to their resume to make themselves more appealing in a tight job market, and in response to more and more job advertisements asking for a minimum of credentials from interested applicants. This change is having several effects on the profession. As more professionals seek credentials and certifications, project management has become a career option open to more people. The ripple effect is providing a positive impact on the wider economy, with the “economic multiplier effect” of more employment in training, preparation and exam administration to support this up-skilling need. Several government and not-for-profit organizations offer financial assistance for job training, which provides underemployed/unemployed with educational opportunities, while further extending the benefits to the training providers.

Some changes to the Methodology of project management

  • There is a greater emphasis on ensuring that projects have genuine “governance with teeth”, and Limits of Authority are being more tightly controlled for authorising expenditure, budgets, scope changes, etc. Savvy Project Managers need to leverage this because it is good for their control of projects, and, in order to do so, they must understand how to make governance effective. They must prepare governance properly and ensure it is run like clockwork.
  • The approach to risk management (mentioned above) has become more sophisticated, particularly for large projects. Project Managers need to capitalise on this and ensure they know how to practice risk management in a way that involves all project stakeholders (it is not just about having a better risk register, it’s about pro-actively managing risk).
  • Thresholds for change controls and performance metrics are tighter. Competent project professionals are striving; those at the lower end of the talent pool will find it a challenging environment in which to operate. 
  • Resources for projects are expected to do more with less, so the project manager is expected to better manage those resources to achieve success. In such tight environments, the project manager’s skills in leadership are more important than ever and the methodology chosen has a major impact on how resources are managed.

Some changes to and impacts on the Professional

  • Many people are taking jobs at levels of pay that are lower than before 2008 because of what the market and employers are currently offering. With double digit unemployment prevalent in many countries, it has become a “Buyers’ Market”, leading to lower salary costs to organizations. Many professionals who are qualified for senior level roles are taking lesser roles. Underemployment, while not optimal to the professional, can yield benefits to those employers that acquire and leverage top talent.
  • It is probably true that today, more contract and temporary positions in project management exist in proportion to full-time positions. Professionals that once had traditional, full-time, stable roles may be forced into contracting, which can be less secure. However, this can also provide many people the opportunity to broaden their experience and build a stronger resume, as well as gain more autonomy in their work-life balance.
  • People in career transition between gainful employment probably carry out more volunteer roles as it helps to fill the employment gap in their resume.
  • Social networking is growing in importance for career management – look at the increase of LinkedIn and Facebook membership.
  • Faced with career challenges, some PMs are changing careers and exiting project management to do something else.

In conclusion, this article touches on a few salient points of how the global economic crisis of 2008 has led to changes in the project management profession. As has been the case for many other professions, the crisis has led to many shifts, some positive and some negative. The lessons we learn from the economic downturn can help prepare us individually as well as organizationally for the next major shifts that occur.

It is important for us all to be prepared for continued change. Louis Pasteur once said that “chance favors the prepared mind.” H.G. Wells is quoted as saying: “Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.” We must prepare ourselves for continued change by constantly honing our processes, developing professionally, and being willing to adapt. Those individuals and organizations that are prepared and that embrace the opportunities presented are the ones that are set to continually strengthen their position. 

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Gareth Byatt has 15+ years of experience in project, program and PMO management in IT and construction for Lend Lease. Gareth has worked in several countries and lives in Sydney, Australia. He can be contacted through LinkedIn. Gareth holds numerous degrees, certifications, and credentials in program and project management as follows: an MBA from one of the world’s leading education establishments, a 1st-class undergraduate management degree, and the PMP®, PgMP®, PMI-RMP®, PMI-SP® & PRINCE2 professional certifications. Gareth is currently a Director of the PMI Sydney Chapter, he is the APAC Region Director for the PMI’s PMO Community of Practice and he chairs several peer networking groups. He has presented on PMOs, portfolio and program and project management at international conferences in the UK, Australia, & Asia including PMI APAC in 2010.

Gary Hamilton has 16+ years of project and program management experience in IT, finance, and human resources and volunteers as the VP of Professional Development for the PMI East Tennessee chapter. Gary is a 2009 & 2010 Presidents’ Volunteer Award recipient for his charitable work with local fire services and professional groups. He has won several internal awards for results achieved from projects and programs he managed as well as being named one of the Business Journal’s Top 40 Professionals in 2007. Gary was the first person globally to obtain the five credentials PgMP®, PMP®, PMI-RMP®, PMI-SP® , CAPM® . In addition to these, Gary holds numerous other degrees and certifications in IT, management, and project management and they include: an advanced MBA degree in finance, Project+, PRINCE2, MSP, ITIL-F, MCTS (Sharepoint), MCITP (Project), and Six Sigma GB professional certifications.

Jeff Hodgkinson is a 32 year veteran of Intel Corporation, where he continues on a progressive career as a program/project manager. Jeff is an IT@Intel Expert and blogs on Intel’s Community for IT Professionals for Program/Project Management subjects and interests. He is also the Intel IT PMO PMI Credential Mentor supporting colleagues in pursuit of a new credential. Jeff received the 2010 PMI (Project Management Institute) Distinguished Contribution Award for his support of the Project Management profession from the Project Management Institute. Jeff was the 2nd place finalist for the 2011 Kerzner Award and was also the 2nd place finalist for the 2009 Kerzner International Project Manager of the Year Award TM. He lives in Mesa, Arizona, USA and is a member of Phoenix PMI Chapter. Because of his contributions to helping people achieve their goals, he is the third (3rd) most recommended person on LinkedIn with 570+ recommendations, and is ranked 55th most networked LinkedIn person. He gladly accepts all connection invite requests from PM practitioners at: Jeff holds numerous certifications and credentials in program and project management, which are as follows: CAPM®, CCS, CDT, CPC™, CIPM™, CPPM–Level 10, CDRP, CSM™, CSQE, GPM™, IPMA-B®, ITIL-F, MPM™, PME™, PMOC, PMP®, PgMP®, PMI-RMP®, PMI-SP®, PMW, and SSGB. Jeff is an expert at program and project management principles and best practices. He enjoys sharing his experiences with audiences around the globe as a keynote speaker at various PM events.

Achieving Collaboration Without Breaking the Bank

An approach to defining and implementing your collaboration model

How adept an organization is at collaboration can be a competitive advantage or, alternatively, a source of significant risk. The general makeup of project teams has been shifting to a more diverse, virtual makeup as organizations spread out geographically and increasingly work with multiple stakeholders on projects. Project management approaches that do not take into account increased communication and collaboration needs created challenges for which organizations are ill prepared. While the market is flooded with tools that claim they can improve collaboration, purchasing a new tool and weaving it into a company’s infrastructure is often not within the available budget. Moreover, a new tool may not be the only answer or even the recommended first step towards improved collaboration.

We suggest that the most economic and effective approach to improved collaboration is to understand your project team’s environment and communication needs by taking the time to define a collaboration model. The path to designing a collaboration model takes diligence in identifying and evaluating your organization’s project, people, processes and existing technology in order to determine the optimal collaboration processes and tools to support the organization.
In this article, we will discuss an approach to defining and implementing successful project collaboration in your organization.

The elements of our project collaboration model

A collaboration model is more than just a set of processes. From our perspective, it represents the successful identification of project information to allow for the effective integration of people, process, tools and technology, as well as on-going adaptation and adoption into a cohesive collaboration model. The intent of this proposed model is to create a standard way of thinking about collaboration so that the project teams can focus on tweaking inputs and assumptions for their current project.


Defining the elements and challenges of our project collaboration model

The key to project success is often how well a team collaborates to achieve the common goal. When a team collaborates well, it is frequently taken for granted. When a team is struggling, we have found it is typically caused by one of these common challenges.


Now that we have defined a collaboration model and its challenges, here is a practical approach you can use to implement a collaboration model within your organization.

Implementing a project collaboration model

The approach breaks down into four basic steps:

  1. Understand project characteristics and needs
  2. Define how your project team collaborates
  3. Train, test, and rollout tools
  4. Monitor adoption and leverage change management techniques
  1. Understand project characteristics and needs

    An awareness of the overall technical and organizational infrastructure, security and/or regulatory constraints of each component of the team will help identify the challenges that might be faced when establishing the collaboration model. If a subset of the team has access to the most mature processes and latest technology that fits the project deliverables perfectly, but similar resources are inaccessible to the rest of the team, there will be a likelihood of collaboration breakdowns.

    The first step is to identify the project’s end product. Processes and tools that work for tangible deliverables such as a white paper, formal analysis, website or application may not translate well when the product of a project is intangible, such as the transfer of intellectual capital. Recognizing that collaboration processes need to be different for different types of end products is an important awareness to gain.

    Once the end product has been defined, assess the team charged with delivering it. Team members within the same company or even the same division tend to have the same vision and a similar level of knowledge for collaboration tools. Team members outside the local area or local organization may need to be aligned with the end goal to ensure adoption of tools and processes. Knowledge and, where it makes sense, incorporation of the tools that the resources are familiar with will also promote alignment and adoption across the team.

    In today’s global team environment, team members within the same company and/or division may not be co-located. Simple considerations such as time zone and local holidays when setting up schedules and meetings, as well as an understanding of cultural nuances and lingo, can foster a sense of good will and team building that is invaluable.

  2. Define how your project team collaborates

    Once the nature of the project and the involved effort is understood, the next step should be assessing team members, processes and the tools that will support the collaboration model.

    • People – Based on the analysis of project characteristics, are there any individuals or groups of team members that may be challenging and need to be addressed? For projects that involve multiple organizations, review the organizations to understand areas of commonality. These areas of commonality can be used as lynch pins for how collaboration is achieved.
      • Example: How to handle communication and task handoff with team members in different time zones, or how to handle issues related to team members having organizational goals and priorities that are different from other team members and that may cause conflict with the project goals.
    • Tools – Evaluate the tools available and determine which one(s) are best suited, given the experience and skills of the team members (one option is to train team members). Then select the likely tools that will be used by an assessment of internally available tools, or by vendor selection if they aren’t available internally.
    • Processes – Knowing the people and potential tools, it is time to identify processes that will help mitigate people-related collaboration risks.
      • Example: Email is to be used for project information and normal communication, but is not to be used to document or resolve issues. Issues will be documented in our issues log on the project website.

    Storing collaboration models created by other project teams so that they can be leveraged and customized by other teams can prove to be a valuable time-saving approach. 

  3. Train, test and roll out collaboration tools

    After a collaboration model has been outlined for the project, one often overlooked and potentially critical step remains: communicate the collaboration approach to the project team in order to develop a shared understanding and commitment. It is important to not assume everyone is on board, so check with the team to ensure they understand the benefits of agreeing upon a collaboration approach up front.

    Based upon tools and processes identified for the project, identify where training is required and whether steps are needed to ensure team-wide adoption of the processes and tools. Finding out that a team member lacks an understanding of tools such as a live meeting for screen sharing when in the middle of a critical issue resolution can greatly reduce the risk collaboration breakdown.

  4. Monitor adoption and leverage change management techniques

    A key to the success of your collaboration approach is to ensure effective and sincere adoption. New habits can be reinforced by leveraging change management techniques. The project effort, team member familiarity as well as the level of change being introduced will drive the level and nature of the adoption monitoring and processes.

    Be watchful of the symptoms of collaboration failure. These may either be the abandonment of agreed upon tools or processes, slow adopters who linger with old tools (e.g., continuation of document distribution via email after a document repository is in place), or duplicate/redundant processes arising due to tool/training challenges. The usage or lack thereof of the approach by your team will reveal opportunities for improvement and evolution throughout the effort.

    Be ready to adapt the process, on-board new team members as needed, and adjust the model to meet your team’s needs.


Collaboration breakdowns can cause team conflict and ineffectiveness, which can result in hefty delays or increased costs to the project. Smooth, efficient collaboration as well as adopting a consistent approach can be key to project success.

Given the changing work environment, improvements to collaboration require analysis and planning. The approach described here is to invest the time and effort to treat collaboration as something that needs to be managed within a project. Analyze the needs of the team, define how the team will collaborate through the project via a collaboration model and communicate the approach to the team. After the model is in place, monitor adoption and adapt as appropriate.

Taking the time to understand and improve collaboration as well as achieving the right balance of processes and tools that meet the needs of your team can result in an area of increased risk becoming a competitive advantage for your projects. 

Don’t forget to leave your comments below.

Ann Helfrich is a consultant with Systems Evolution Inc. ( with over 24 years of internal and external consulting experience. Her background includes Strategic Project and Program Management, Business and Technology Analysis, Program Development, System Architecture Design, Solution Implementation, and Change Management. 

Susan Jones, PMP is a consultant with Systems Evolution Inc. ( with over 10 years of experience in the area of IT Project Management. Her background includes Warehouse Management, Print Fulfillment and large-scale OS deployments with focus on Process Improvement and Change Management.

John Roberto, PMP is a consultant with Systems Evolution Inc. ( with over 18 years of internal and external consulting experience. His background includes Program Management, Project Management, Process Improvement, Strategy and Business Analysis. Mr. Roberto has worked in the financial, medical device, and automotive industries.