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Improve Project Management Maturity to Reduce Attrition
By Kiron D. Bondale

When the symptoms of low organization project management maturity are discussed, cost and schedule overruns, limited business value realization, and stakeholder/customer dissatisfaction usually rank high. One of the less frequently considered impacts of this situation is the overwork and stress incurred by project managers who are forced to “fill the white space” to keep their projects on track.

By contrast, in mature organizations, sponsors and team members demonstrate their commitment to the project’s success by fulfilling their responsibilities, and project managers can perform their roles without alternating between babysitting and nagging.

In lower maturity organizations, the types of challenges encountered by project managers on a daily basis include:

  • Situational amnesia: Functional managers, team members and sponsors will conveniently forget decisions or commitments they had previously made – sometime on the same day!
  • Pre-schoolers playing soccer: Without frequent follow-ups, team members get distracted or lose focus on their activities by chasing the next ball that comes their way.

  • Cassandra syndrome: Issues and risks are identified, communicated and escalated with no follow-through from their owners.

Such issues force project managers to jettison work-life balance, marginalize professional development and defer vacations as their sense of professional responsibility overrules their sense of self-preservation. Actions taken by the project managers to keep their projects on track in turn will stress and frustrate team members and functional managers.

What’s worse is that when projects succeed under such conditions, it can be very difficult to cultivate a sufficient sense of urgency to improve.

One driver for maturity improvement might be the need to increase project throughput. Whereas in lower maturity organizations, a competent project manager might only manage one moderate sized project because of the challenges listed above, as maturity increases, capacity to take on more concurrent projects should develop.

Project management has become a pricey skill set, and selling the case for change based on getting more project management bang for the buck might also appeal to your senior management. If not, their wake-up call might end up being the steady exodus of project management skills.

Kiron D. Bondale, PMP is the Director, Corporate Project Management Office at Agricorp.

Kiron has managed multiple mid-to-large-sized technology and change management projects, and has worked in both internal and professional services project management capacities. He has setup and managed Project Management Offices (PMO) and has provided project portfolio management and project management consulting services to clients across multiple industries.

Kiron is an active member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and served as a volunteer director on the Board of the PMI Lakeshore Chapter for six years.

Kiron has published articles on Project and Project Portfolio Management in both project management-specific journals (PM Network, PMI-ISSIG journal, Projects & Profits) as well as industry-specific journals (ILTA Peer-to-peer).  He has delivered almost a hundred webinar presentations on a variety of PPM and PM topics and has presented at multiple industry conferences including HIMSS, MISA and ProjectWorld.  In addition to this blog, Kiron contributes articles on a monthly basis to ProjectTimes.com.

Kiron is a firm believer that a pragmatic approach to organization change that addresses process & technology, but most important, people will maximize your chances for success.

For more of Kiron’s thoughts on project management, please visit his blog at http://solutionq.wordpress.com/.

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