Straight Talk on Project Management


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PMaaS = ∑Capability + Flexibility + Control. How to expect the unexpected.

“Expect the unexpected. Deal with what you’re dealt”

This could be a mantra from the last couple of years, couldn’t it?

Actually, it’s a caption from a poster, in the style of a movie billboard, that I saw on the wall of an IT Project Manager’s office, probably about ten years ago now. The hero was standing, legs apart clinched fists resting on his hips, with a big P on his chest.  

Little did we know then how utterly unexpected ‘the unexpected’ would become, nor how difficult dealing with what ‘you’re dealt’ would be turn out to be!! Nobody has ever had the deliver IT Projects through times like we’ve all just been through!

In the last two years, expecting the unexpected has gone from being “good at continency planning” to needing the kind of imagination that devises these far-fetched super-hero or disaster movie plots.

Imagine if I’d stood in front of that poster and mused, “Hmmm, talking of unexpected, I think we should plan for a global pandemic that will close down the world’s economy almost overnight. Plan for working from home, on the same kitchen table where our kids are doing virtual maths lessons. Oh, and while the workforce is crying out for the technology solutions to deliver this, let’s plan for IT Projects to be halted, not ramped up, as budgets get frozen.”

You’d have thought me insane yet that’s what we just lived through – and managed our projects through.

Well done, genuinely.

IT Project teams have this ability to deal with what’s dealt coursing through their veins. You scope and plan and execute but where you really excel, the moment you really earn your money, is when your project throws you a curve ball.   

And they keep on coming!


We’re noticing a slow down on investment again, sparked by a new wave of ‘unexpected’. The cost-of-living crisis which means a leading supermarket has said that it is losing market share to the food banks; petrol soaring towards two pounds a litre in a country where protestors blockaded refineries when the price reached half that; rising energy prices that are leaving people with heating or eating choices; war and occupation of one sovereign state by another on European soil; talent shortages in IT Project Management that are driving up day rates as scarcity triggers market forces into action; etc; etc; etc.  

All of this undermines confidence. It causes costs to increase which get passed on and then passed on again, multiplying across supply chains until someone has to absorb them or declare the cost too great. Those supply chains are volatile and stretched and, like the links of an actual chain, can only withstand the pressure that they were designed to endure.

Blimey, I bet you’re happy you started reading this!

Regular readers will know that my blogs are a battery charger not a battery drain so nearly 700 words in, here comes the spark of light and hope.

The good news is that we’ve been here before and recently too. The lessons that will get IT Project teams through this new wave of movie-plot-like-madness are fresh in our minds. You have developed and matured the skills for dealing with whatever you’re dealt, for planning for and expecting the unexpected, even if the unexpected seems to have come from the mind of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg or JK Rowling.

Also, for every far-fetched movie plot, there has to be a hero. The project universe has at least two! A reliable trusted hero who has been saving the day for years and a new protagonist who is just as amazing.



Project Management as a Service (PMaaS) is the traditional hero. During these unpredictable times PMaaS resources can inject a degree of reliability, stability and, perhaps most essentially, help control costs.

As I say, we’ve been tracking a slow down on IT Project investment, probably triggered by those cost of living rises, the global market volatility that comes with a war, increased gas prices, etc, etc, and Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement mini budget, that we’d hoped might restore some confidence, doesn’t appear to have much of a positive effect on investment. Early days, hope springs eternal. 

An IT project is not rigid, they’re never a fixed entity. Projects are always flexing, hitting snags, or over running. You need to be equally flexible to control costs.

In times like these, the ability to flex to meet demand is key. Project teams cannot afford the luxury of having just the right talent sitting on the bench waiting for their call to action. PMaaS gives you access to exactly the right talent, at exactly the time you need them, for exactly the length of time that you need them. Dial up, dial down.

With PMaaS, you can flex your resources to follow project demands without increased fixed overheads and without the constriction on a fixed 5 day a week contract or fixed duration of contract term. While the day rate may be slightly higher, you get to use the resource as needed and access the full “Tool kit” of resource types.

Flexibility is the secret ingredient in any cost saving equation or any cost benefit analysis formula, so before you take a drastic decision on IT Project investment, explore how PMaaS can give you more control.

Technical Design Authority – TDAaaS

This is the new kid on the block I mentioned.

TDAaaS, distilled to its essence, ensures that your project portfolio has the requisite level of technical oversight and governance – across all your projects. This service sits within and works alongside your PMO function and safeguards that IT solutions are fit for purpose and aligned to the wider enterprise architecture, delivering a range of performance and cost benefits.

From Stoneseed’s new Technical Advisory Services brochure: “Whether you are looking to identify and establish best practices, drive business value by ensuring that solutions align to business objectives, gain coherency or simply require support on technical leadership, a Technical Design Authority provides consistent expert knowledge to achieve successful project outcomes and enhances your project delivery capabilities.”

To be honest, as our clients will attest, Technical Advisory Services have been part of the Stoneseed PMaaS proposition forever. It’s just now, in the current business-driven, return-on-investment focussed project environment, the benefits that all elements of our Technical Advisory Service are delivering are so extensive – that they deserved their own spotlight.

Technical Consultancy (TCaaS), Technical Architecture (TaaaS) and Technical Design Authority (TDAaaS) are all helping organisations maintain governance, develop resilience and control costs.

Business leaders are telling me that they’re faced with a paradox, their organisations cannot afford to stagnate and hibernate in terms of IT Project investment, but they also can’t afford to take risks and ‘learn from mistakes’ like they used to pre-pandemic (and other global stimuli). In an uncertain world, they’re craving certainty and control. 

I hope the slow down in IT Project investment is a blip and not a trend, stagnation cannot be an option, the certainties that would follow are not desirable.

At Stoneseed, we are not movie poster heroes, not really. I’m more Clark Kent than Superman! We are though, and always have been, by your side – partners and stakeholders in the success of your projects. 

Call me on 01623 723910 or email to find out more.

Let’s get going.