Straight Talk on Project Management


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Three steps to creating a “Delivery-Max” IT Project Management culture

It was a meeting to presage the start of a new project, but as this was the first time the team had been together since successfully delivering the last one, the CIO cracked open a magnum of champagne. Happy days!

The flutes were shared among the team members and raised for a choir of “cheers”.

Then, just as the rest of the team took their first sip, the CIO poured his straight into a pot plant.

As the champagne fizzed and soaked into the soil, the team wondered what had just happened.

‘What a waste!!’ their gawping faces seemed to say in unison.

“Make no mistake,” the CIO said, “the last project was a success, enjoy your champagne, you deserve it.”

Then, pouring himself a fresh glass, he added, “Here’s to you and the next project. Before we crack on would anyone like to hazard a guess at the proportion of waste versus return-on-investment last time?”

Most of the team were silent, fixated on what the CIO might do with his second glass of champagne. To their relief, he just sipped it.

In the meantime, one team member counted how many were in the room and answered, “About 10%?”  

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a more illustrative way of communicating project waste, and while I still balk at the glass of champagne in the pot plant (both as a connoisseur and a gardener) – it did focus the team’s attention.

There were 11 in that boardroom, wastage was 9%, so the CIO’s champers was a strikingly pertinent metaphor. This team’s 9% wastage figure is pretty consistent with the industry standard. The PMI’s  2021 Pulse Of The Profession survey revealed that poor project performance can waste 9.4% of your business’ investment.


Remember, these guys were celebrating the “successful delivery” of a project.

For them, success allowed for an estimated 9% waste of investment. Meanwhile, the PMI are suggesting 9.4% waste translates as actual “poor” performance!

An indication of how slim the gap between success and failure can be – 0.4%, apparently!

Throw in looming recession, inflation, talent shortages, supply chain issues, post pandemic challenges and everything else we’re facing right now and there has never been a better time to cut waste and boost efficiency.          

The team with the plant-pot-champagne-watering CIO devised a strategy that they called Delivery-Max, I love a mission with a name!

They haven’t wasted a single flute of champagne since and with their permission, I’d like to share …



The champagne-wasting CIO seemingly had a handle on the cost of wastage, credit where credit is due though, it was actually the team’s recently appointed Business Analyst who did the leg work.

I’ve written many times about the value of a BA. A Business Analyst is the bridge between your business aspirations and its capabilities. In upcoming projects, this BA will be vital in helping define the future of the business, they’ll identify, imagine, create and scope change and improvement to processes that will add considerable value to the company – but here they instantly got a handle on project waste.

Whether it’s a BA (check out Stoneseed’s Business Analysis as a Service) or a dedicated member of your current team – make sure someone is tracking the cost of when your projects are less than best in class.

You may have noticed earlier, the CIO referred to waste versus return-on-investment. We all measure ROI, these guys started measuring WOI and what a powerful metric it turned out to be!


According to the PMI’s 2018 Pulse report, just two out of five organisations valued project management as an operational discipline. Let’s hope that number is higher now but it’s worth measuring how much your business or organisation values the work of its project managers and whether they have the necessary resources to succeed.

CEO at Delaware’s Project Assistants, Gus Cicala summed up what this means nicely in a blog recently writing, “Project management support comes down to the six roles and responsibilities of project management: leadership, expertise, analysis, scheduling, coordination, and administration. Leadership is chief among them and the one that helps the other five aspects engage and stay harmonious. Leaders connect with every aspect of a project and ensure everyone has what they need to succeed.”

Gus adds, “Expertise is the on-the-ground knowledge a team needs to execute a project from every angle. The analysis looks at all of a project’s essential insights and how they impact completion. Scheduling ensures deadlines are prioritized, while coordination and administration work to keep all the logistics on track. If any one role is missing or ineffective, the whole project is off-kilter. So, start your problem-solving there.”

Stoneseed’s Project Management as a Service resources can bolster your current operation, fill any capability gaps you have, or even provide an end-to-end service.    


The thing I love about this team is their collective ownership of any wastage, mistakes, fails, miscalculations and mis-steps. What this means is that when something goes wrong it immediately gets flagged, pounced upon and sorted.

Everything is geared to the best outcomes for the project. Accepting that people do make mistakes, the team is hard-wired to think of the best outcome for the project following their mistake. They fess up, they quickly communicate the mistake to anyone it affects, they have a keen sense of the inter-dependent nature of a project and how the slightest variation from the intended course can have a impact down the chain. Best of all, when they do – they get applauded! No-one ever feels they can’t own up to a mistake – there’s almost a celebratory feel to admitting an error and putting it right.

This level of trust also leads to a culture of ‘having each other’s backs’.

Have you ever worked for a team where you don’t flag something that you think is wrong because of how the person responsible might take it? Or where, if you put your head above the parapet about something and it turns out you were wrong, you might be seen as an unreliable contributor? Not with this team! You’re encouraged to speak up, saying that you think something is up (even if it turns out to be OK) is applauded too.    

You won’t go far wrong if you implement this key three: know where you’re going wrong, support your project team, be accountable to yourself and each other.

The margins for error that were baked into projects of the past just aren’t there anymore – the gap between success and failure feels like it’s narrowing with every project we are asked to consult upon.

Now is the time to eliminate waste, super-charge your efficiency and create a “Delivery-Max” IT Project Management Culture. If you have anything to add to this list, I’d love to hear from you. Stoneseed can help bridge the gap between YOUR business aspirations and its capabilities and, through IT Project Management, drive business change that fits your dreams and goals


Find out more about Project Management as a Service from Stoneseed


Pulse of the Profession 2018: Success in Disruptive Times (