Sunday, December 29, 2013

"Top 10 Organization Challenges that Limit Project Success” by Tom Mochal - PROJECT ON TRACK 1

I wish you a Happy New Year and  hope that 2014 brings each of you new challenges and opportunities! I would like  ''Project on track'' to be the theme of 2014  and therefore would like to start a series of articles on how to make sure your project is successful. Let’s start from “Top 10 Organization Challenges that Limit Project Success” by Tom Mochal which I would like to share with you.

I met Tom Mochal at 8th International PMI PolandChapter Congress, which took place 2-3 December 2013 in Westin Hotel in Warsaw. Tom Mochal is the founder and president of TenStep Inc., a global company that specializes in consulting and training in business methodologies. He is also the author of „Lessons in People Management” and „Lessons in Project Management”.

1.     Active Projects Congestion
Problem: Very often there are too many projects opened as sponsors think that if a project is important needs to be started.
Solution: The best way to finish a project quickly is to staff it optimally. Fewer projects in portfolio means more stuff completed by the end of the year, so prioritize your projects and start when you have resources.
2.       Enhancement Distraction
Problem: Too many operational enhancements (small projects between 2-20 hours) might consume resources to be used on more important projects.
Solution: Squeeze enhancements to smaller percentage, so you have more resources to work on projects.
3.       Support/Operations Overload
Problem: Similar to enhancements support/operational work takes too much effort.
Solution: As projects is what get you to the future state make operational work as efficient as possible. Live with lower, but acceptable level of service!
4.       Resource Allocation Fog
Problem: You don’t know where resources are assigned and it’s crucial you understand when people have capacity for more work.
Solution: You need just minimal capacity of tracking people and work, so do not make it complicated. A simple high level s/sheet (updated monthly) to track resources by project, operations and support will be sufficient!
5.       Can’t Change
Problem: Very often people give up when they struggle with change. Usually is a result of a lack of governance and sponsorship.
Solution: Do not implement change unless you have senior management support!
6.       Mismatched PMO Expectations
Problem: Managers want PMO to “make it happen” and PMO cannot “make it happen”. You are only as much of successful as your sponsor is!
Solution: PMO provide information to managers who provide governance! Governance is management not PMO responsibility. This mismatch of expectation leads to dysfunction.
7.       Lack of Accountability
Problem: No one meets their commitments – it’s organisational wide: PMs, team members, managers. No one really cares.
Solution: Start a change initiative. First,  people need to understand their commitments – document them! Managers must hold staff and each other accountable for meeting commitments.  Add to performance review process – otherwise meaningless!
8.       Project Manager Isolation
Problem: Both sponsors and line managers do not support Project Managers!
Solution: Change the culture! Make sure everyone in organisation understands project management at practical level! Ensure everyone knows their role!
9.       Conflicting Roles
Problem: Roles and responsibilities are not clear – it applies to people and committees! Committees compete or overlap.
Solution: Document roles and responsibilities and rationalize across roles to minimize the confusion and overlap.
10.   Throwing PMs under the Bus.
Problem: Blaming project manager for all project ills!
Solution: Stop it!

Delivering projects, not operations/support work, is what get you to the future state – projects move a company towards goals/strategies. Project management enables projects to be more successful. Make sure the project management and other processes in your organisation work together for optimal results.


  1. If you plan on a long term career as a project manager, then yes, even with your level of experience, I would suggest getting your PMP. You can prepare yourself for the exam in one of the PMP trainingproviders like You can do minimal prep-work to get 40 PMI® Contact Hours and apply to PMI for PMP Exam before the class begins.