Project Management is about People

This post is sponsored ProSymmetry. It is a guest contribution from Greg Bailey, Vice President World Wide Sales at ProSymmetry.
We’ve all been there as project managers. Drag slide bars across the screen, adding tasks, and planning the best project timeline. Everything will be on time, everything will fit perfectly, and then… the real world happens.
Your perfectly-designed plan can be ruined by delays, logistical disasters, communication breakdowns, departmental politics, and problems finding the right resources.
It is becoming more apparent that our way of planning projects is not working. Although this is not the only cause of failure, our dependence upon structured PPM software can often distract us from the core of every project: those who actually turn those plans into actions.
The vast majority of PPM tools focus on tasks and deadlines and fail to consider the real-world behavior and needs of those who are responsible for completing the project.
My experience shows that project management is all about these people. We must bring them back into the center of project management and resource management if we want to avoid project failures in the future.
There is a disconnect between people and tools
PWC, the global business consultant, surveyed over 3000 project professionals in 110 countries to find out why projects fail. These were the top three reasons for failure.
Insufficient resources
Mid-project scope changes
Poor estimations during the planning phase.

Survey results show that there is a significant disconnect between how projects are planned and the actual behavior of resources. People get sick, their day jobs and other projects compete with the schedule, and some people underperform. Research shows that improved resource management is a positive step towards increasing project success rates.
What’s the problem?
As I mentioned above, PPM software is extremely abstract. The screen breaks down tasks and projects into smaller bars. This is far from the actual project ‘on ground’, whether it’s five people creating a mobile app or ten thousands building an Olympic stadium.
Read Next: Take a look through this selection of project management software reviews.
This is why project leaders are often faced with such a problem.
Picture Alice. She is a project manager for a public sector organisation. She is running a public awareness campaign that involves spreading information across the country. This will include hiring contractors and temp workers, as well as coordination within her own organization. Alice has a well-planned campaign, but as the campaign progresses, she notices that there is a lot of lag.
What could it be? Let’s take a look at the other side.
Jai works in the same public sector organisation as Alice. Jai has extensive knowledge and contacts in media distribution, and has been invited to help with the project. Alice gives him a very reasonable task list during weekly meetings. Jai even signs up for these tasks and commits his time during the meeting.
They have both lost sight of another reality: Jai has his day job, which involves many pressing tasks. He is also currently working on other projects.
It’s not surprising that Jai’s contribution isn’t as timely and efficient as Alice’s original plans. These resource issues, which include temps, contractors, and third-party organizations, mean that the project is over budget and past deadlines.
It’s not a complete disaster. Overall, the project will be successful because it gets the work done. It’s not good for Alice, and it’s also bad for her organization.
Resource management dashboards can help you delive

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