Effective Project Management

In my previous blog post, I highlighted the alarming rate of project failures and emphasized the critical role of a capable project manager in improving success rates. Effective project management is indispensable for achieving project objectives within time and budget constraints. Unfortunately, many project managers fall short, lacking the necessary skills and responsiveness during crucial project phases. In this blog post, I will discuss the fundamental elements of practical project management that will help you excel in planning, resource management, budgeting, and timeline adherence. You do not need a PMP for this, and it is also not a fight between Agile and Waterfall; this is common sense.

  1. Integrated Project Plan:
    To ensure project success, it is crucial to create an integrated project plan right from the project’s inception. In cases where you join an ongoing project without a plan, take the initiative to develop one. An integrated project plan should encompass the entire project scope and involve all relevant teams. Avoid the temptation to rely on multiple project plans, as they complicate management when issues arise. Utilize project management tools like Smartsheet, an affordable option, to streamline the planning process.
  2. Issue List:
    Every project encounters issues along the way. Establishing an issue list from the outset and maintaining it regularly is vital. Each issue should include key details such as priority, status, owner, and resolution date. Appreciate the value of this list, especially during critical moments when time is of the essence.
  3. Scope Document / Feature Backlog:
    Integrating elements of product management and agile methodologies, create a feature backlog to track project scope and requirements. This document becomes especially important for large projects involving multiple cross-functional teams, providing visibility on which features will be included in Phase 1 and which will be deferred. Regularly update and maintain the feature backlog, as it is a core responsibility of the project manager.
  4. Progress Scorecard:
    Executives often require updates on project progress, focusing on high-level information and percentage completion. Develop a progress scorecard that highlights meaningful milestones. Instead of merely dividing the project into stages (e.g., planning, design, build), structure it around capabilities (e.g., Capability X, Y% complete, Z timeframe to deliver). Keep the scorecard simple and avoid unnecessary automation; manual maintenance is preferable. Avoid complacency and be diligent in your role as a project manager.
  5. Project Status Report:
    A project status report, commonly presented using a stoplight (Red, Yellow, Green) format, is essential. However, its effectiveness depends on having the aforementioned elements in place and functioning effectively. While the status report should not consume excessive time, ensure that you address tactical issues promptly.
  6. Daily Call:
    Conduct a daily stand-up meeting with key project stakeholders. Limit the attendance to individuals critical for project success, avoiding overcrowding. During the meeting, review the project plan and discuss any outstanding issues. Focus on identifying and resolving blockers that hinder progress. As a project manager, maintain an active role in this call and hold your team accountable for delivering on committed milestones.

While there are numerous other aspects to effective project management, the fundamental elements discussed above provide a solid foundation for success. As a future CIO, it is imperative to prioritize the recruitment and development of competent project managers. The vision and strategy of your organization heavily rely on the execution of projects, making the presence of capable project managers essential. Never compromise on the talent that drives successful project delivery.

Categorized as Blog

Dark secret of consulting

If you’re involved in a major implementation with an external firm, you may have encountered a less than satisfactory experience, to put it mildly. There are certain tactics that consulting firms employ, and it’s important to be aware of them and ready to respond effectively. For instance, consulting firms are notorious for inflating the hours quoted, especially in time and material contracts. Once the project begins, you’ll notice a multitude of individuals attending your meetings, and all those resource hours will be charged to you, the customer. Be cautious of roles mentioned in the contract such as client relationship director or practice head. Unless they are technical consultants, investing your budget in them would be wasteful.

It’s a well-known fact that around 70% of IT projects fail, and in order to increase the chances of success, a capable project manager is crucial. However, even with a competent project manager, success is not guaranteed. Consulting firms bear some responsibility for this, but it’s also worth noting that the organizations that hire these firms often have unclear visions of what will be built and what their expectations are until the project reaches a critical stage, typically closer to the testing phase, when “shit gets real”. At that point, it becomes apparent that requirements were not adequately addressed. Unfortunately, this is when consulting firms tend to create a sense of urgency, suggesting that the situation can be salvaged only if more time and money are provided. The key is not to give in and instead initiate a negotiation process to address past mistakes. This may involve heated discussions and arguments, but that’s alright. Aim to reach a point where the consulting firm feels defensive and consider escalating the matter to higher levels within their organization. Alternatively, if a senior executive in your company states that there is no additional budget, communicate this to the consulting firm and request that they absorb the additional costs. Chances are they will be more inclined to comply.

Depending on your personality, you might feel uncomfortable during such challenging situations. You want the project to succeed, but you also want to avoid conflicts. It’s perfectly understandable to feel this way. However, there will come a time when you must present your arguments to the consulting firm and be prepared for that moment. Gather relevant data and communicate with confidence, supported by the evidence at hand. Remember that, as the customer, you hold significant power, but it’s important not to abuse it. Be thoughtful and assertive in order to achieve your desired outcomes. As a future CIO, you will encounter many obstacles like these, and experiencing just one such situation will provide valuable insight on how to respond effectively.

Categorized as Blog


I never could have imagined that I would be considered for the role of future Chief Information Officer (CIO) at a company. It is a significant role that comes with immense responsibilities. Throughout my journey, I have always battled with self-doubt, yet I have managed to make substantial progress in the past five years. However, the idea of being told that I am the future CIO seemed almost unreal. Yet, there I was, sitting in the CIO’s office, being informed that I would be the successor. It required me to leave my former company and face numerous challenges and sacrifices to achieve the growth in my career. Even now, as I contemplate the prospect of becoming a CIO, I still harbor doubts.

Only time will reveal whether I will indeed fulfill the role of a CIO.

Categorized as Blog