Placing Experience Where it Matters

Project/Program Portfolio Management (PPPM)
By PH Lohnes, PMP

Placing Experience Where it Matters!

After listing the perspective characteristics of the PPPM levels in a previous post, one more discussion is needed to lay the foundation for understanding how all three layers work in harmony to produce an increasing rate of project successes. The idea is going to be difficult for many in the PPPM discipline to accept since it is contra-indicated according to current practices — even to the point of impacting fees and compensation.

In a nutshell, erroneously, most organizations have placed the most experienced project managers in the same hierarchical structure that indicates a direct reporting or management role of lower levels. This means that program managers are superior to project managers, and portfolio managers are superior to program managers as an org chart would indicate. This is counter productive in so many ways.

Now before you begin screaming and throwing your nerf (yes, I said nerf — google it!) units at the screen, understand the current problem with project management — IT IS NOT WORKING! Referring back to a pervious post on “What’s Wrong?” we made a case for lack of project success rates correlated to the number of certified project managers now in the discipline. This is one of the main reasons for that lack of success — yes, its the fact that most organizations deplete their executional project managers by making them program and portfolio managers!

There, it is said and it is out there! Deal with it, and once you have slowed your heart rate, think about the one thing you are not able to teach from a book, a course, or seminar?

EXECUTION!!

You can teach someone how to plan, write a plan, document a plan, develop a schedule, update a schedule, identify risks, write risk mitigation strategies, document staffing plans, write a communications plan, and many other project management necessities. What is not taught, can’t be taught except through the school of time in the course of experience (re-read this last phrase if the alliteration is unclear) is:

HOW TO EXECUTE the PLAN to SUCCESS!

This is a skill that can only be learned through long hours of actually practicing the craft of project management. Thus, bluntly and forcefully stated, most organizations promote themselves out of increasing project success by implementing the age old practice of “pushing experience up the ladder.”

Think about it. Organizations put their most junior (by this I mean inexperienced) project management personnel at the execution level, promoting their more senior and experienced project managers into program managers so they can increase their compensation. Unfortunately, the law of unintended consequences reduces the expected benefits. Therefore let this post end with:

No one should be more highly prized, compensated, retained, or supported than an experienced EXECUTIONAL project manager.

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