Looking for Great Project Managers? Stop searching for them on Mars or Venus!

January 31, 2024


Globally, organizations are moving towards a projected way to manage initiatives. These strategic initiatives broadly fall into three categories.

  1. Launching a New Product or Service or “From Idea to Launch”
  2. Customer Bid Projects or “From Quote to Cash”
  3. Efficiency or Productivity Enhancements or “From Request to Completion”

The number of projects planned and executed has grown exponentially over the last couple of decades. At the same time, it is disheartening to observe the low rate of project success.
The 2016 PMI Pulse of the Profession highlights this bitter statistic –
“Organizations waste 122 Million USD for every Billion invested due to poor performance.” These numbers are worse-off compared to 2015!
The question on everyone’s lips is –
“Where are all the good project managers? Have we stopped producing great project managers?”
It also leads us to the next and probably more pertinent question –
“What are some signs of a great project manager?”
There are innumerable books on project management and what a good project manager is all about. Much of the literature focuses on parameters such as:

  • Effective & detailed planning
  • Managing risks & issues
  • Communication
  • Managing stakeholders
  • Dealing with organizational politics
  • Good scheduling
  • Sensitive to global culture
  • Timely project reporting
  • Personality and leadership

In fact, the list goes on.
Despite the above (and much more) characteristics, why are organizations not delivering projects to the satisfaction of their clients and other stakeholders? Are project managers not performing the above efficiently?
From our collective experience and interacting with clients globally, we have realized that one word that summarizes the trait of Great Project Managers is “Predictability”.
If you are a project manager, you may be wondering – “I have delivered projects successfully. There were issues that I successfully handled whenever they occurred. What is ‘predictability?’
By ‘predictability’ we refer to the ability of project managers to ‘foresee’ events rather than merely ‘deal with’ events.
Let me illustrate.
Assume you are managing a project which is about 10 months and currently in the ninth month. In an internal project review meeting, you realize that there is an issue with one of the deliverables that could jeopardize the project finish date.
Most project managers and teams would brainstorm the issue and try to come up with alternatives. If it does not work out, then you escalate to your internal management hoping for a solution. However, all these come at the cost of ‘time’. The bigger the organization, the more time spent in the form of protocols to get your ‘time’ on the ‘management’s calendar’. It is quite possible that even after spending a week or 10 ten days, you might not be able to solve the current problem.
What is the next course of action?
You have no choice but to call for an ‘Urgent Client Meeting’ where you describe the current situation along with its effect that there is a possibility that the project finish date could get pushed by a week!
If you are dealing with a ‘smart customer’, then the first question might be –
“When did you come to know about this issue?”
As a project manager from the Performing Organization, you are stumped! You respond, “Hmm… eh….a couple of days back.” But your body language gives up and the ‘smart customer’ clearly deciphers that it was definitely not ‘a couple of days!’
Customer frustration comes from the lack of predictability in your project management processes to ‘foresee’ events.
Just imagine if you had an Integrated Project Management System that could predict this, say a month in advance, you could have gone to the customer and said, “Dear customer, the project so far has been on track. However, based on our Integrated Project Management System, we ‘foresee’ a ‘potential’ issue brewing in about a couple of weeks from now. While we are working to ensure the same does not impact the project, we thought of proactively letting you know. We didn’t want this to be a ‘negative surprise!’
Now could you visualize the customer’s response? I am sure it would be definitely different from the previous one cited earlier.
How do we ensure ‘Project Predictability?’
Your project has requirements, scope, schedule, costs, resources, procurement, engineering drawings, team collaboration, dashboards, progress reports, lessons learned, etc. However, most project managers struggle to get an ‘integrated’ view of all of them at one place. The teams review ERP solutions for the status of Purchase Orders, Inventory, Invoices, Payments, Employee Compensation, etc. On the other hand, they monitor schedules using Project Scheduling software and CAD/Engineering Drawings are on a different platform.
Additionally, if you think Project Management Training or Certifications would help, think again! Workshops and Certifications enable project professionals to get a clear understanding of project management, but organizations need to do ‘something different’ on the ground!
How could clients expect ‘predictability’ in this setup? It is just not possible unless your Project Management Office (PMO) slogs it out at a regular frequency to extract an ‘try’ to make sense of the data.
If organizations are really serious about delivering ‘Predictable Outcomes’ to clients through ‘Great Project Managers’, it is high time they do take stock of their systems that support project management.
Grooming Great Project Managers starts with an ‘Integrated Project Management Solution!
As the adage saying goes, “You are judged by the company you keep.”
Project Managers are judged for their “Greatness” by the Predictability they bring to Project Outcomes.

Srikanth PV


Srikanth PV comes with two decades of global corporate and consulting background across industries with diverse roles including Strategy, Leadership, and Management. Currently, Srikanth is Head, PPM Content Management at Kytes focused on content management strategy aimed to empower customers create and enhance value through its flagship digital solution - Kytes PSA. Srikanth is also a former member of the Board of Directors of PMI Bangalore Chapter.