It’s people who count in projects

What are the 3 key project management problems you face? That was a question I posed on a recent project management training course. I asked the group to put each answer on to a post it note and theses were put on to a flip chart to examine. It is interesting that of the 27 post it notes 14 of these related to people. These included;

• people failing to communicate effectively on the project

• lack of buy in from key stakeholders

• people not completing assigned tasks on time as they agreed to do

• resistance from staff directly affected by the project

• getting people on side

Other problems included:

• keeping to the agreed budget

• over optimistic timescales

• difficulty in accessing information

There is much energy and effort put into project management training. However, the focus seems to be on methodologies and process. Would we be better to link the methods and process with some people skills training? I often hear of ‘people’ issues that need to be resolved but by their own admission participants say they find often them difficult to deal with.

Maybe, just maybe there needs to a different emphasis; linking the project management training with people skills. Maybe the training needs to be modular starting with project management course and a link into the people side with specific modules such as influencing or negotiating or leadership.

These are my thoughts, what about yours?

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5 Responses to It’s people who count in projects

  1. “It’s people who count in projects” because people identify, create, and implement solutions… achieve results through collaboration. Learning how to effectively lead and empower people in these endeavors is top of the priority list.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I think scope creep is a killer on projects: and it ties in perfectly with the people and project skills education piece that we have to spend so much time doing.

  3. Hi Ron,

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. There is a lot of focus on methodology and process – perhaps because these are easier to teach and measure? But these are just tools of project management.

    People skills are of course vital, however I think there are others as well, such as the ability to organise and prioritise. All of these skills should be developed in a well-rounded PM course.

    Good post.


  4. Ron says:

    No problem with what is said by all comments above…all recognise the value of people…if only others thought like you!!

    Interesting points William. For me it’s about learning, we seem to make the same mistakes again and again …wait for a blog that links to this soon…

    How do we stop scope creep Elizabeth, especially creep created by senior managers? It’s how you manage the people (senior manager in this case) which need to be thought through and trained…

    Mike, agree; need a well rounded PM course which encompasses more than i suggested and I know of one consultancy specialising in this aspect.

    Thanks again.


  5. Hi Ron,

    Very true. Many times people use sophisticated tools and hope somehow that will lead to great execution. More often than not, people are the weak link in project execution. Scope creep and estimation padding are the two most common reasons for failures in my opinion.


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