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Jun 13 2018

Project Management & Project Manager roles

Within HORTON INTERNATIONAL, PROJECT TALENTS’s aim is to propose executive search services to our clients regarding Project Management positions.

At Horton International, we have a special focus on Project Industries, such as energy, transportation, construction, infrastructures, etc.

A project, as defined by the Oxford dictionary, is “an individual or collaborative enterprise, possibly involving research or design that is carefully planned, usually by a project team, in order to achieve a particular aim. A project may also be a set of inter-related tasks to be executed over a fixed period of time and within certain cost and other limitations”. A limited definition.

The reality is much more complex, and, as seen in many candidates’ interviews in that field, it can be vastly different to the vision. To sum it up, a project is hard to sell (winning it through an external tendering process, or internally), hard to deliver, and often hard to equilibrate financially.

Projects are hard to win due to strong competition during tendering phases, often guided by obscure political streams, and that being too competitive in order to win will only set you up for failure in the long run. Indeed, many projects that are won by stating that it will be cheaper and quicker to deliver than a competitor, are the two reasons that will ultimately cause a project to fail.

Projects are hard to deliver because technical constraints are often underestimated or unknown up front.  Partnerships and interfaces are not properly established and defined. Delivery time-frames are often way too optimistic, projects are remotely led and once the contracts are signed, teams must be immediately available.

Projects are also hard to equilibrate financially because they are often delivered late and therefore incur penalties as the operational delays can cause serious loss of revenue and increased costs.

Horton International’s point of view is that Project Management roles are not exactly like any other operational or functional capability.

-within organizations, project management positions are not defined on organizational charts, which generally depict a more holistic view of the company;

-a project remains an undefined object inside a company and is, by nature, defined on a temporary timescale.

-project functions easily find a place within agile and modern organization delivery frameworks, but integrate less easily across vertical structures;

-as a matter of fact, project management works better in a more matrix structured organization by “picking” the competencies it needs from across the more siloed structures;

-the project management role is often held by non-specialist employees and generalists, whose competencies rely more on cost, planning, organization, quality and global delivery rather than on the technical aspects of project delivery;

- Project management disciplines are barely taught through academic courses, and is the result of the sedimentation of multiple and “over-the-ages” sum of experiences (structured around a set of tools and methodologies);

The project management function is often underestimated and is not very visible throughout enterprise organizations.  Career progression as a project manager is not a proposition or is not well known as a career path.

Project Management is often the source of new activities that will generate a new line of business allowing the company to “project” itself toward the future.  It appears that there is value in seeing this as a professional career pathway.

In that sense, we, at HORTON INTERNATIONAL, are strongly invested into the development of this new “line of business”.

What we know for sure is based on the following principles.

-a remote project is often complex, and needs multicultural experienced teams;

-once onboarded on a project, PM professionals tend to stay on board for the duration of the project, hence the resource scarcity;

-an enterprise will neither search nor staff for a PM position until the project is secured and approved.  This is always a risk as there will be a resource shortage and lag period until such time as the project starts.

Let’s have a chat about it.

Edouard Credey
Partner
Horton International France

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