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47th Earth Day

Today is the 47th anniversary of the first Earth Day in 1970.  Much has been done, but more is needed. Fortunately there is someone with the skills to make a difference: the project manager.

Five Ways Project Managers Save the Planet

OK, maybe a bit dramatic but good project managers and good project management skills do a make a difference. Here are five ways:

  1. Manage Stakeholders
  2. Ideas to Action
  3. New Technology
  4. Better Deployment
  5. Eliminate Waste/Reduce Risk

Manage Stakeholders

Project managers are the best in the world at managing stakeholders. It’s is a key knowledge area (13.0). Identifying stakeholders is a key process for any project initiation.  Managing stakeholders is essential for environmental progress: Susie wants wind energy, but Jack is concerned about migratory birds, and Phil wants to protect his backyard view from turbines.  Managing these various and sometimes conflicting concerns requires good stakeholder management skills.

Ideas to Action

Creative solutions for environmental challenges must progress from idea to action to make an impact.  A good idea can lead to policy and law, but that’s often a tough, long road. It needs a variety of skills for success.  Good project management can speed the process from idea to research to evidence and increase collaboration between groups. Once adapted as law or policy, those same project management skills can speed implementation.

New Technology

Innovation in the areas of renewables and energy efficiency are bringing big rewards (from higher efficiency panels to smart metering and more).  Good project management speeds innovation and market entry. We’ve seen a $2 million improvement in design productivity per project by the adoption of project best practices as an example.

Better Deployments

You created a great technology: now it needs to be deployed.  Good project management practices increase speed and efficiency and reduce costs.  Think about bringing a new solar panel factory or power plant online more quickly.  We’ve seen factory delays reduced by over 60% and delay cost savings of over $200 million in some large project ramps.

Eliminate Waste/Reduce Risk

We saw in a previous post that good project risk management (11.0) by mature PMOs saves $26M in a $100M project (average risk reduced from 28% to 2%).  Project quality management (8.0) applies the seven basic quality tools to understand and reduce the cost of quality with a focus on prevention.

You can see how good project management skills and good project managers can help big time with saving the planet.

What other ways do you see project management skills helping?

If you would like to read my future posts then please click ‘Follow’ at the top of this article and feel free to connect via Twitter

 About the author:

Mike Fritsch is the President and COO of Confoe Inc. which provides on demand project management, high performance training, and consulting.  Clients have included:  Intel, Dell, SoloPower, HelioVolt,  Whole Foods Market and the Environmental Defense Fund. He previously served as CEO of Alamo SolarPV LLC.

Mike has appeared in numerous publications including Renewable Energy WorldPlatt’s Energy Economist,  Sun and Wind Energy, Fast Company, and US News & World Report

 About Confoe:

Since 2002, Confoe has provided project management services, consulting,  and custom software solutions for clients ranging from the Fortune 50 to new venture start-ups. Clients have included:  Whole Foods Market, Intel, Dell, SoloPower, HelioVolt,  and the Environmental Defense Fund.

Does your project performance stink?

If the studies below are correct, then the answer is probably yes:

1. Only eight out of 100 organizations have a project success rate greater than 80%-Project Management Institute
2. Only 2.5% of companies successfully complete 100% of their projects – Price Waterhouse Coopers
The average cost overrun for IT projects is 27% – Harvard Business Review
One in six IT projects had cost overruns of 200% on average and a schedule overrun of almost 70%-Harvard Business Review
Cost overruns increased to 59% of all projects in 2012 from 46% in 2010- the Standish group
In 2014 $109 million was lost for every $1 billion spent on projects – Project Management Institute

Your experience may be better or worse, or your organization may just not keep track.

What is good project performance?

Typical project success criteria asks where you on time, on budget, and did you meet the project goals? For some of you, less than 60% of the projects meet all three.  In it’s March 2013, Pulse of the Profession, PMI found that to be true for 22% of the organizations surveyed. These were characterized as  low performers. The impact of that performance is significant:  the average project risk was measured to be 28% of budget.  High performing organizations in contrast showed an average risk of 2% of budget.

How to get good performance?

So how do you move from low performer status to high performer?  How do you reduce that project risk down to 2%?  PMI’s Pulse of the Profession identified three important steps.

1.  Focus on talent development. Improve the skills and capabilities of your project managers and project staff.
2.  Support standardization.  Embrace common methodologies and best practices across the organization.
3.  Align with organizational strategy.  Alignment is critical so that project work actually adds value AND alignment helps improve support from sponsors and stakeholdersThose steps are right in line with the purpose and function of a Project Management Office.  A Gartner survey indicated that almost 70% of organizations reported significant improvement to project success rates after implementing a PMO.  The PMI study, however, speaks to the need of a mature PMO and mature organization to gain high performer status and results. More on that in a future post.

Questions for you?

1. Do these statistics match your experience?  Have you seen better or worse performance?

2.  If changes to budget, time, or goals are properly approved through the change control board then are you still successful when you meet the newly approved requirements?  (Even if the original budget or timeline has been exceeded)

3.  What have you seen as the best approach to improving project performance in an organization?

Let me know what you think.  Thanks.

About Confoe:

Follow Me: @opscoo & @savvypmo