Project failure is relative to PM skill level

I want to suggest that project failure is relative to PM skill level.  Of the research that I have looked at project failure can generally be categorised under a set of key areas.  If you identify with any of these triggers then I suggest to strongly consider your skill levels.

Last year I wrote an article and included 5 reasons why projects fail and earlier this year I read this really good list of Top 10 reasons why projects fail written by Jim Stewart.

The interesting thing is that both lists contain the same things.  Jim is situated in Massachusetts in the USA and I’m here in Melbourne, Australia.  It says a lot about the skill levels of project managers if the same mistakes are being made half a world away from each other.

Or, perhaps more to the point, the missing skill levels of project managers.

One of the many soap boxes that I have, and stand on frequently, relates to the mismatch between someone calling themselves a project manager and the actual skill set that they have.

For a number of years now recruitment agencies ask for experience managing projects in different scenarios, depending on the hiring organisations industry, and some form of certification, be that Prince or PMBOK.

I find that a lot of the interviewing for project managers falls short in really testing the validity of the work experience of the people applying.

How different would an interview be if there was a requirement to provide strong testimonials and real case studies for a number of the key aspects of project management.  I am talking specifically about stakeholder management, collaboration amongst the project team, leading the team under pressure.  Not the sort of questions that would normally be asked in a project manager interview, that’s for sure.

I have been to one interview at a consulting firm for a project manager and in the first round interview I was required to sit a test.  This comprised a number of questions where I was required to use examples and strong understanding of key aspects of project management.  Yes, some of it was the standard project based things such as financial management and resource scheduling, but there were also behaviour based questions as well.

This was a different approach and really did test my ability to clearly explain what I do and how I do it.  How do you think you would go if you were given a similar test?

The key things missing today, that are rarely tested prior to a project manager starting in a role, are the key things that impact on project success or failure.  They are the base level skills that you would expect of a strong project manager.

If you read the lists of items in these articles mentioned above and realise that there are some things there that you do when you manage a project, or perhaps don’t do, then I would suggest that you gain some mentoring or assistance to up skill yourself in these aspects.  You will be glad that you did.

By gaining or strengthening these core skills you will be less stressed whilst managing your next project and find that delivering is a lot smoother and easier ride.


Written by Karen Munro