Three stories tell of the value of PMSelect to businesses
demanding high project management performance.
1. ‘ Leading Lights’
- PM consultants with ‘presence’
|As they grow in ability and stature, putting projects
of increasing complexity under their belt, project executives
often find that they are changing the contribution they
are making to the business. By supporting and enhancing
the efforts of other project and programme managers and
stakeholders, their value shifts to that of advisor and
mentor. These ‘leading lights’ can sometimes find new
career direction as coaches and consultants.
Our client here is a project management consultancy firm.
Their mission is to change a company’s project performance
– forever! The firm have been helping some of the largest
businesses in the finance sector to transform their project
organisation. Their reputation in this work has helped them
to win assignments in other industries including engineering,
aerospace, telecommunications and the public sector.
The firm wanted to recruit to meet a rapidly growing
demand for their services. They wanted to find people with
the maturity of a ‘leading light’ but who also had a record
of achievement leading projects, high academic attainment
and a good presence. We needed to approach able people who
were unlikely to have considered this career direction. Through
our discussions with the more able candidates and the subsequent
assessment centre process, we helped them to learn about the
work and style of the firm. Decisions that were to be made,
by our client and the successful candidates, were then well
Working closely with our client, we were able to define
and to understand the requirement and to introduce people
who are now well-regarded members of the practice.
2. Managing projects – any project – any sector
|Project management has spread into all sectors.
In recent years, as the profession has matured and through
the work of professional bodies, the language and methodology
has become more universal. It is now increasingly common
for project managers with the ability to deploy a universal
capability and to move between sectors. These are the
new ‘Universal Project Managers’ and they include some
of its strongest practitioners.
Our client here is a manufacturer of large printing presses.
A growing order book prompted the need to appoint project
managers from outside the business. We were asked to find
project professionals able to manage projects up to a value
of £15M, mainly to overseas customers and always involving
a significant use of sub-contractors. The role is one that
manages the relationship with the customer throughout the
life cycle. Candidates needed to be commercially astute: proficient
at keeping the customer abreast of developments, managing
changes to the requirement and managing the margin.
The client believed it to be important that candidates
had experience of this niche printing sector. We had to address
this preference with the client. We knew that such a choice
was going to narrow the field and probably limit the calibre
of project managers that could be found. A trade-off was chosen
and it was decided to widen the net to the whole engineering
sector. Of the three appointed, one came from running a project
office in a defence company, another was installing avionic
systems in aircraft and the third came from a senior position
in shipbuilding. The business has benefited significantly
through its access, from these appointments, to best practice
from other industries.
Assessment centres were developed for this exercise,
including the use of Executive Assessment. Of particular intertest
was the director’s decision to involve the existing project
team in a selection event. On the day of the Assessment Centre,
members of the team showed candidates around the company’s
facilities and accompanied them on customer visits. This approach
came from a belief that reliable recruitment depends on well-founded
decisions being made by the successful candidates as well
as by the company wishing to employ them. It was also about
commitment. By the time these new recruits joined the projects
group, many of their new colleagues had already committed
to them joining and to supporting their induction into the
3. Recruiting professionals from outside to ‘raise
|Some businesses and sectors are more mature than
others in the way that their organisation delivers projects
and their benefits. The processes of a mature project
organisation are more highly developed and senior management
expectations are greater. A business can take the opportunity
when recruiting a senior project executive, to appoint
someone from a business that is more mature than their
own at delivering projects – to thereby ‘raise the game’.
A newcomer can in this way act as a catalyst to raise
the capability and performance of a project organisation.
Our client here is a principal supplier of control equipment
to mass transit operators and rail infrastructure companies.
Contracts are international and run to hundreds of millions
of pounds. These industries now purchase ‘systems solutions’
rather than engineered equipments. Now the customer, instead
of specifying and buying a quantity of engineered products,
seeks to buy improvements to the rail infrastructure.
The contract requires railway performance. Equipment
is not the customers' primary requirement and high proportion
of the value of the contract and its commercial risk relies
on successful project execution.
Our client won a substantial contract, larger than any
previous order, and they knew that their project organisation
had to improve its capability and performance. PMSelect were
asked to find a project executive who could devote all their
effort to strengthening the project organisation. To maximise
the potential of this initiative we were asked to locate candidates
with experience from a sector where practices were more mature
and more reliable in delivering large and complex projects.
We introduced a project executive from the petrochemicles
sector who was appointed to the position. The complexities
and scale of our clients work were familiar to this professional.
In this instance, a project executive from a more developed
project-led business was appointed into a business needing
leverage to improve performance substantially. The arrangement
was very much to the advantage of our client and the recruit
who can expect a substantial improvement to their career prospects.