Terence O’Donnell, Projects & Consulting
There are some interesting developments occurring in the world of project management. Well, there are always interesting developments going on within project management, but it seems to me that the kind of services that clients expect and require are evolving. This evolution will significantly influence project management practices in the years to come.
In my opinion, what we are seeing is a strengthening of the expectations of an increasingly discerning client base. Clients are now looking for Project Management as a Service (PMaaS) where they can bring in partners who can provide expertise and advice. They also want partners that can provide experienced project personnel capable of running and managing projects, either as part of the client’s extended team or in more turnkey arrangements. In the latter type of arrangement, the client will set out the expected deliverables and a high-level approach as to how the project should be completed.
We have recently responded to several tenders from major organisations in this area:
- ESB Networks (Telecoms Division)
- The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY)
- The Office of Government Procurement (a series of framework contracts including project and programming management)
These are all high profile and influential organisations, and their project management requirements are indicative of broader trends (and may also be influencing these trends). All three tenders had the following in common:
- They were looking for organisations with track records of delivering projects and/or providing project personnel to complement existing teams or to provide extra capabilities in the areas of governance and Project Management Offices (PMOs).
- In each case the response needed to demonstrate experience in the provision of these services and there was an expectation that a partnering model would be used in the provision of an SLA-based service.
This reflects a slight shift in mindsets in the market: companies are now less inclined to hire and develop project management personnel. Instead, they are looking to the market to provide this service. This has two obvious advantages:
- It provides them with the ability to expand their project management capacity when needed
- It reduces the risk of having extra capacity sitting on the bench when the demand for projects recedes.
The Office for Government Procurement has a long list of services which sets out the expectations that the Public and Semi-State sectors anticipate requiring over the next four to five years. I’ve included an excerpt of this list here:
- Provision of Project, Programme and Portfolio Management (P3M) services, business system advisory services, technical support, technical advisory services and subject matter experts to Framework Clients to support projects.
- Develop and deploy P3M infrastructure, system and software to facilitate company-wide P3M deployment.
- Collect, understand, and analyse business requirements for projects and translate these into functional and non-functional specifications and engineer solutions.
- Analyse and document business processes and workflows.
- Balance demands regarding scope, time, cost, risk, quality, and expectations during a project.
- Develop project documentation such as business cases, project plans, risk planning, etc.
- Develop and implement programme communications plans.
- Measure project performance by Earned Value Management/Earned Value Project Management techniques and data analysis.
- Identify business opportunities for portfolio development and repositioning.
- Monitor, track and report project progress and associated risks.
- Develop and mentor personnel, provided by the contracting authority, so that the Framework Client team is self-sufficient in operating the PMO.
While this is only a selection of items from the list, it demonstrates the kind of comprehensive and multi-layered project management support that will be expected in the years to come. Those providing PMaaS must be prepared to offer a diverse range of expert services. It will be essential for anyone in project management to develop the capacity to provide these services. This will be challenging and will require ambitious strategies. It will also present great opportunities.
The foundation of the kind of project management services that meet the above criteria is a strong pool of project personnel, from Project Administrators to Senior Consultants. If you foster and develop your teams and keep current with market demand, there is no reason why your business can’t win a substantial portion of this emerging market.
With all of this in mind, are you prepared to provide the kind of project management services your clients will be demanding? If you are, you can be confident in your ability to remain competitive and to complete projects successfully in the years to come.
Terence O’Donnell is Projects & Consulting Partner at Auxilion. An industry veteran of 35 years, he is a founding member of the Ireland Project Management Institute’s (PMI) chapter and is a past president of the Irish chapter.