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Straight Talk on Project Management

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Been there, done that, got the IT-Shirt! How the best Project Talent’s been around the block!

Question: Who makes the best Project Manager, Business Analyst or even CIO – the “stick-arounder” or the “move-abouter”?

I have recently noticed a pivot in hiring preferences, which is paradoxically both ground-breaking and yet, also so subtle that I can’t pinpoint when it happened!

A little context …

A CIO friend, who was hiring, made a casual remark about the environment we find ourselves in, where retention of talent is increasingly difficult and talent gaps are making new hires a challenge.

He had two equally qualified applicants for a Project Manager vacancy.

“Candidate A” had been with Company Z for five years whereas, in the same time period, “Candidate B” had worked for (and left) X, Y and Z following completion of projects! (They left X!! I know right – unimaginable!!!)

Not too long ago, my CIO friend would have hired a long-term banker like “Candidate A” but increasingly, the opposite may be true. Back in the day, for most recruiters in my circle, it was all about “buying in” potential loyalty, so “Candidate A” was probably getting the job because, on paper, they were more likely to be with you for the longest time, yielding a greater ROI for your onboarding investment and reducing the cost of having to rehire a year or two down the line.

“We have to assume that they might be off again after their current project transitions [in to service],” my friend told me, “if I just have someone for a year or two I want the greatest possible wealth of varied experience to leave us richer in capabilities and knowledge.”

In other words, an IT project manager’s skill set is enriched when they can draw upon broader experiences from multiple sectors (not just industry sectors but private- and public-sectors too), and from diverse businesses and market environments. In project management, as none of us work in isolation, a wise CIO or project leader will ensure that they and their team are taking notes and that these capabilities contribute to project success even after the talent has left.

So, the “move-abouter” brings a depth of experience, different perspectives, and fresh thinking to share! Makes sense, right?

And … Stoneseed’s PMaaS also delivers this – in spades!

WHAT IS PMaaS

Stoneseed’s Project Management as a Service (PMaaS) provides access to project professionals, resources, and tools at a flexible and predictable cost. Our services portfolio offers a true end to end service, from IT Technical Advisory, Business Analysis Services and PMO Services through to Programme & Project Delivery.

Stoneseed’s team are experienced across multiple technology solutions, sectors and industries, and we work on all types of projects and programmes such as Business Change, Transformation, Infrastructure, Digital and IT Project Delivery. All of Stoneseed’s PMaaS resources are available onsite or remote, in fact we are experts in Remote Project Delivery and our “Turn it on, turn it off, turn it up or turn it down” approach gives you flexibility and control.

THE BEST CIOs ARE ALSO MOVE-ABOUTERS!

Watching a brilliant interview with Richard Corbridge, Director General, CDIO, DWP Digital in conversation for CIO.com’s CIO Leadership Live: UK series, it dawns on me that the best CIOs I know have also been “around the block a bit”.

CIO.com’s Lee Rennick and Richard’s chat about digital transformation in the private and public sectors, innovation, building value and support for clients and customers, will inspire a future blog (on the importance of IT and business strategy being two sides of the same coin), but it is Richard’s career path that gets him a nod here.

Richard’s journey is interesting: he didn’t “do technology” at University but since graduating fell into tech roles; became a support analyst with the NHS; moved into leading tech transformations across the NHS; moved to Ireland to oversee a huge digitisation initiative there; returned to the UK to another major hospital project; then headed up innovation at Boots transitioning the business through (and after) the pandemic, from its traditional bricks and mortar approach to a more digital space; and now leading tech innovations at the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) that provide targeted help for the UK’s most vulnerable people.

Can you see how all those strands of experience would twist and combine, like a rope, to create a strong single capability core?

Again, back in the day, a hirer might have concluded that someone with a career path like Richard’s was a little flighty, he might have appeared a bit “here, there and everywhere” jumping from job to job but, watching the interview, you’re left in no doubt about what an asset he would be!

So, if it works for CIOs why shouldn’t we apply the same thought process for PMs, BAs and all project talent?

Mind you, as all this comes as standard with PMaaS talent, maybe just skip hiring permanent PMs and BAs altogether, IT Project Management as a Service is clearly the way ahead (unbiasedly writes the PMaaS evangelist!! Lol!)

SIX WAYS OUR PMAAS MOVE ABOUTERS CAN BOOST YOUR IT PROJECT OFFER

1 – They Bring a Wider Perspective

Logically, the wider your exposure to various industries, businesses, sectors and cultures, the greater your perspective will become. Experience of different business operations can only freshen thinking on meeting challenges and achieving goals. Rather resorting to your factory setting and “how we do things” be like a sponge and soak up any new knowledge you can from talent with a varied back story, a solution to a challenge they tackled along their career path could be the exact fit your organisational needs.

2 – End-User Centred Approach

In that CIO.com CIO Leadership Live: UK interview, Richard Corbridge talks of putting the end-user first in all the IT Projects he has led. It’s clear, listening to him speak, how each of the engagements in his career have informed and emboldened this stance. More and more, business solutions must align with end-user requirements, having a firm understanding of the diverse needs and expectations of those end-users and customers in different sectors can allow IT project managers to develop a more end-user-centric approach to project management.

3 – Adaptability

When IT project talent have multi-sector experience, they usually develop a greater adaptability and agility, meaning they can identify when an adjustment to their management style and/or methodologies will deliver the best results for the current situation. I have a PM friend who has been with the same organisation for years and can project manage using waterfall in his sleep but becomes, by his own confession, awkward and clunky when using an agile or hybrid approach. Other managers, drawing upon a wider experience of different operating styles instinctively switch to the approach that best suits their situation.

4 – Individual/Personal Professional Growth

Managing IT projects in different sectors and environments undoubtedly contributes to continuous professional growth (both for the individual and hiring organisation). We see this in our PMaaS talent all the time, when they return from an assignment where they’ve been exposed to a new skill set, or business dynamics they’d not previously encountered – they’re never the same. These now more versatile and valuable professionals grow in confidence, and they take these new skills and ways of thinking into each future engagement, they share and enhance those teams too.

5 – More Innovative

A Project Manager on our PMaaS team once told me that clients often look at him like he’s a magician when he comes up with a solution from thin air – as if he’d pulled a rabbit out of a hat. Of course, in reality he’s just drawing upon his experience, remembering doing something-somewhere-else that might work in this instance. The more people and ideas you encounter, they greater your bank of knowledge becomes.

6 – Greater Awareness and Management of Risks

This is often highlighted by PMaaS clients, when talent comes with no baggage and a fresh pair of eyes and having had exposure to various other businesses and sectors, they are exceptional spotters of potential risks and future challenges. This bank of experience can be a superpower for project managers helping mitigate risks effectively. The same goes for crisis management, a wider experience of crises gives project talent the confidence to approach potential catastrophes calmly and thoughtfully.

Stoneseed’s innovative on-demand PMaaS resource model can provide access to a wide portfolio of project skills, from a single Project Manager, Business Analyst, Technical Advisory or PMO expert for a few days, right through to a large team of fully utilised project professionals. They are made available against your demand schedule, you can dial up and down your IT project resources in sync with your delivery needs, and thanks to the straightforward commercial model, keep better control of your costs.

PMaaS enables you to align resources as and when you need them, on a cost effective, full-time, or part-time basis – all the while soaking up all that amassed knowledge and expertise!

I’d love to discuss how Stoneseed’s PMaaS talent can enhance your team, not just your latest project but for many years to come.

 

Find out more about Project Management as a Service from Stoneseed

 

 

SOURCES

https://www.cio.com/video/657790/cio-leadership-live-uk-with-richard-corbridge-director-general-cdio-department-for-works-and-pension.html

https://www.stoneseed.co.uk/project-management-as-a-service/