A Deep Dive on the Importance of Project Management Skills in Consulting


Quick Wins interview with Ed Lively and Stephanie Cole of the International Institute for Learning (IIL), seasoned project managers discuss the importance of consultants need to have strong project management skills.

In this episode – Christie, Ed, and Stephanie have a roundtable discussion walking through key techniques along the phases of a typical project lifecycle – initiate, plan, execute, monitor/control, and close.  Episode also covers International Project Management Day coming up in November and how you can enhance your project management skills by attending an upcoming virtual conference.

Episode also covers International Project Management Day coming up in November and how you can enhance your project management skills by attending an upcoming virtual conference.

Learn more about project management:

International Institute for  Learning 

IPM Day 2017  |  Registration | A Virtual Tour

Listen to the Episode Here:

We will be doing a segment that I call Quick Wins. Quick Wins is when I have the opportunity to connect with individuals, discussing products, services, or ideas to help round out your consulting toolkit. In this episode, I’m going to call it a round table. We’re going to do a round table on project management. If you’re new to consulting, what you’ll soon discover is that regardless of the type of consulting projects you do, whether you work on six-week strategy cases or you end up on large multi-year implementation types of engagement work, you’re going to need to understand how to optimize the operations of that project, which is what project management is all about.

Why is that important? It’s important because we think about the crux of many projects that fail. If you are a consultant, there are some concerns or challenges you may be having in your projects. Chances are the root causes of problems may go back to the project management of that specific engagement. Consider the statistics, because it’s staggering. For every billion dollars invested in projects in the US alone, $122 million of that is wasted due to subpar product performance. That’s according to PMI. They also share that 75% of both business and IT executives anticipate their projects will fail. Standard Group states that only a third of all projects were successfully completed on time and on budget in 2016. These numbers go on and on the stats of projects and why projects fail.

When you go back to being a great consultant and the journey to greatness, that also includes becoming a great project manager. We have a couple of seasoned project management experts joining us from the International Institute for Learning. We have Ed Lively and Stephanie Cole, and we’re going to have a conversation about project management. We’re going to have almost a round table discussion around some tactics, techniques, and best practices that you can use and bring to your projects. We’re going to do that across the typical project management life cycle. The language changes depending on your projects and depending on your firm or your clients, but initially, the beginning and the end of a project are the same.

There’s typically an initiate phase, a plan phase. There is execute, monitor, control, and then a close phase. That’s the rhythm of most projects out there. We’re going to talk about each of these phases, give you a couple of tactics and techniques. Stephanie and I, we have over 60 plus years of experience collectively of project management. We’ll also give an impromptu case study to help bring the idea of project management to life and to make it real for you. We’re going to talk about International Project Management Day. We’ll also touch on the state of project management and what are some things in skills and things you should consider as you are rounding out your consulting skill set for the future.

Interview with Ed Lively and Stephanie Cole

Ed and Stephanie, how are you both doing today?

We’re doing exceptionally well. Thank you very much, Christie.

I wanted to get a chance to have you introduce yourself to the go-getters of The MECE Muse Unplugged.  

This is Ed Lively, and I’m a senior consultant and instructor for the International Institute for Learning. I began my career working for a venture capitalist and real estate developer and building office buildings and shopping centers. Since then, I’ve been involved with many different projects, working on enterprise-wide implementations and deployments of software to building database and to building a windmill farms for public utilities. A project I’ve worked on is a process improvement project and writing a book. 

My name is Stephanie. Our company is the International Institute for Learning, and we are an educational provider headquartered in New York City. We excel in coaching, training, and course development in all areas of business. My experience over the years include learning and development implementation with one of the Big Four firms, event management, and business development. At the helm at the International Institute for Learning is our CEO, LaVerne Johnson. She is an innovative, powerful, and dynamic leader who started in the project management world over 25 years ago, and she has been making moves ever since. We also have nineteen global affiliates. We not only offer training for certification for project management, but also training and other areas too, including business analysis, Agile and Scrum, as well as sustainability and leadership.

I want to talk about all of the fantastic work that you’re doing at IIL. I wanted to make sure Ed and Stephanie joined us to talk about an important topic in the consulting community, and that’s around the discipline of project management. I’ve been in consulting for over fifteen plus years. As consultants, we work on projects. That’s what we do, and it never behooves me that sometimes, I notice that certain individuals do not take that discipline as serious.

It’s such a critical skill set, that I wanted to bring attention. I asked Ed and Stephanie to join me to talk about some things that you can consider. If you’re trying to be a great consultant, you have to become a great project manager. There’s no if, ands, or buts about that. To tee up the first question back to you Ed, tell us about how project management became a cornerstone of your career.  

This started back over twenty years ago. I was working for a real estate developer and a venture capitalist at the time. I remember the first time I was asked to manage a project. It was after one of the shopping centers that we manage had burned to the ground. Unfortunately, I was handed this project. I never managed a project before, and I remember thinking right off the bat, “Do I have the qualifications? Do I have the understanding of construction and architecture to be able to handle this project?” I was scared to death, that I was being handed so much responsibility up front. That’s how I took off and started doing projects. From there, I seem to be handed other projects. I spent some time as the Chief Financial Officer for the Mexican American Unity Council in San Antonio, Texas. During that, I noticed that there were a lot of financial -type projects. When you think of projects, a lot of times you may think of construction or you think of IT, but many of you do projects in everyday life.

MECE 020 | Project Management Skills
Project Management Skills: Most people focus on the technical skills in building a building or creating a software. It begins with relationship building skills.

When you talk about being thrown into something that can be daunting, that’s the life of a consultant all the time. We are constantly in stretched opportunities, and so having a systematic approach, no matter how much you scale a project or how complex it is, there’s some basic fundamentals that if you do right day in and day out as habits, it will set you up for success. What are your thoughts on that?  

Most people focus on the technical skills in building a building or creating a software. It begins with relationship building skills. It begins with identifying those people that are going to be concerned with your project, interested in working on your project, the clients, your team members, and developing a level of respect with them. Developing some rapport with them, where you get to understand what you have in common and what interests you share, and then also building trust with them. Trust in your competency, trusting your integrity and your willingness to share information with them. Stephanie can attest to this that many times, we skip over that part when we go right to the building part of it.

Relationships are a key because a hard lesson that I learned so many years ago is that it may not be fair, but people do business with people that they like. People do business with people that they have relationships with. A lot of times a relationship will get you into a space where just a purely business approach may not. Relationships have often been the foundation to build many great things, and it’s not to be discounted, because at the end of the day, we’re all humans.

Relationship skills are the lubrication in business that makes everything else go easier. We’re talking about negotiation, conflict resolution, or any other one of the interpersonal skills or even the technical skills, the ability to get along with people, because after all, isn’t that who helps us on projects? People.

You talked about initiate. I want to take a step back. Let’s start with the five stages of a typical project. It usually starts with the initiate phase. You were talking about the importance of stakeholders and making sure that you start to build those relationships and initiate. If you’re to think about initiate phase of a project, what is one more technique or best practice you would recommend to our audience that that would be starting a project and beginning with the initiate phase?

One of the things you have to do is get your arms around the project to identify what’s included in the project and what’s not included in the project. Here’s a good place to talk about scope, scope being the boundaries of what we do and what we don’t do. To understand scope fully, most people think that it all comes down to defining a scope statement, when actually there are so many other things that go into it. The contract you sign helps define what you’re going to be doing. You might have a statement of work that defines the work in enough detail so that the performer knows they can do the work, and that defines part of it.

It might be the charter that gives authorization to the project, and the requirements. There’s a lot of elements that go into scope, but if you don’t identify your scope up front and if you don’t do a good job of doing that, then you have problems throughout your project. It makes it difficult to estimate the effort that it’s going to take to do the project. You have something that we call scope-creep, where individuals start asking for additional work to be done that wasn’t included in the original scope.

I would guesstimate to say at least 90 %where projects fail or where there starts to be problems on projects, is it has to go back to the scope. One or two things in addition to what I do constantly during the initiate phase of a project. Number one, the minute I roll onto a project, the first thing I’m asking for and looking at is either the SOW, the Statement Of Work, or a copy of a scope statement. Some projects may call them a charter. Make sure the first thing you do is you look at that document, and you memorize it by heart.

One of the first things I do is memorize the statement of work to make sure I have a clear understanding of what the obligations of my team and of my firm and what are the contractual requirements for the client, and to make sure they’re aware of that too, because with projects, people roll off and on projects. There’s a lot of transition. I’ve seen that, where clients may not know what’s in scope for a project. Back to the point about stakeholders building relationships, I would say take it a step further, and make sure everyone’s on the same page on what you are contractually obligated to deliver. Number two, typically you go from initiation phase two, to what’s called plan phase. Ed, do you want to kick off thoughts on the plan phase?

In the planning phase, a lot of times we solidify the scope, make sure that we finalized it, but we have to go further than that. We have to figure out how we’re going to do the project, in what order we’re going to do tasks, what tasks we need to do, who’s going to do them, and how long it’s going to take them and how much it might cost them to do it. During this part of the project planning stage, we figure out our schedule. We create a list of all the tasks. It’s much like the lists you might create. Many of you out there are already list makers. You put together lists and in time, you’re going to do something. We do the same thing, only we were more specific. We try to identify the flow of the methodology we’re going to use in doing it, and this serves for the way we’re going to execute the project later on.

We have to know what our baseline understanding is, and we go through several iterations of this trying to figure it out. Finally, we turn it over to the client to approve it. We make sure that all of our involved parties approved the plan before we move forward on it. There are many different plans that we have here. In addition to the schedule, we have a budget that becomes our baseline for our costs. We have quality management plans; we have stakeholder management plans. Just about every aspect of what we’re going to do in the project, we have a separate plan for and putting it together. The project manager that’s working on even a simple project needs to be fairly organized. The key word is adaptable.

Go-getters out there that go out and create the perfect plan, it’s going to change. It’s never going to stay static, because as humans, we are not static people. What I found, especially with newer consultants, is that they seem to not want to accept that it’s going to change. They think as the plan is created, it’s going to be executed that way. That is not the case at all.

All the documentation that we create, all the plans that we put into place, it’s dynamic. It’s in a constant state of changing and updating. As we get request to change the plan and as we start executing and things that are going to change, we’re going to have to constantly go back and review the way we put the plan together and re-plan to stay online with our baseline.

I always try to include buffer in my project plan. For example, if contractually we have to deliver a specific work product in fifteen business days, I try to make sure that we buy ourselves more time. I usually have to plan the contract and what we have to deliver on, but then I have a second plan. My second plan is where I have the dream dates. These are the dates that me and my team are really working towards. It’s typically more compressed then the actual dates. If we have to have it done in fifteen days, we’re going to try to get it done in eight days, because that gives us time to make corrections, to get client sign off, to iterate if needed.

You want to figure out the techniques that work for you. Creating that buffer, sometimes even splitting a work product, saying we’ll have the first version by that date and then we’ll have a second version. Usually, if clients see progress, they appreciate it. They will work with you at times, but you have to figure out how to be creative, but at the same time meeting your contractual deadlines. 

No one likes to constantly be up against it all the time. If something is due on the fifteenth and you can get it done on the eighth or the tenth, then those remaining days that you have, you can do a cleanup and housekeeping, as opposed to skidding in wheels burning at midnight on the fourteenth. I like the idea of cutting it in half. You do have to double time in, but you make out better on the back end, because now you can look back and you can see what you’ve done, and with the time remaining, you can do of housekeeping.

During the planning phase, I come up with various scenarios. The way that I build in my buffer and my times for my products, I do it by doing a risk assessment. I identify risk at the onset of a project, not when the project is happening. Risk is just a fancy term for what if these problems happen. What are we going to do? I like to do that upfront, and build that into scenarios of various projects and timelines. It gives me more control over the timeline. I can forecast things up front, I can work with the client and set expectations early on. There’s a lot of value that comes with creating that rigor up front.

When we were talking about initiating, you limited me to only one more key thing. When I’m reading the contract or the statement of work for the first time, I’m doing it with a highlighter and trying to identify things that could be risks. I also look for opportunities. As I’m identifying the threats, I look for the opportunities too in these documents.

My last thing is milestones. I like to create what I call back pocket milestones. It goes back to cutting the time in half. If we know that our milestone is due to the client, I’ll make sure I will create new milestones in between the times to make sure that we have markers on our team so that if we need to catch things early on, we can do so in a way that’s controlled. It’s part of that planning and the timing and about identifying risks. Any other last thoughts on plan phase?  

When you’re talking about those intermediate points to make sure you’re progressing, is putting together a plan with tasks that are close enough together to know that I’m making progress on my project. I don’t want too much detail, but I need enough detail to know that I’m moving towards the dates and I’m going to get them.

If you’ve got anything else on the plan before we move to phase three, which is execute? Any other thoughts?

Most of us are now working on virtual teams. We’re dealing with teams that are in Singapore, Nigeria, China, India, and all over the world. Having a good handle with collaborative tools like Central Saba and Adobe Connects, we’re using Zoom here or some other product, those are important to learn how to use them extremely well, because we can reach out and we can talk to clients. I talked about building respect, report and trust. That becomes important also when we’re dealing with virtual teams, because the same thing is important in every country in the world. It’s just different how we go about each one of those things. Building respect, rapport and trust with them.

I’m so glad you teed up the virtual team. In the future, I will do a segment just on virtual teaming, because it is becoming more and more prevalent of the way we’re doing business and consulting, it’s going to be the wave of the future. Any starting thoughts on the execute phase?

During execution, what we’re trying to do is execute on the plan we created. One of the major difficulties that companies have is that maybe collaboratively they build a great plan, but when they leave the planning session, they go back to their cubicle. They don’t look back at that plan. They do it based on people calling in and saying, “I’m ready for you to do your piece,” or “I’m doing this rather than this today.” They leave the plan, and that makes it very difficult for managers and executives to know where the resources are and whether they’re over allocated or there’s some excess capacity there.

Executing on the plan is one thing. During execution, one of the most important things is keeping those people who have an interest in the project. I’m going to refer to them as stakeholders. Those people need to have their expectations managed, and they need to be communicated to on a regular basis. If you have a stakeholder that is asking you for information, that tells me that you’re probably not communicating often enough or in a manner that they want to be communicated to.

Any other thoughts on execution?

One of the things that sticks out to me is what happens when the plan that has been created, is too far over in terms of its complexity. It’s so detailed that it’s not a good fit for how the team mentally moves. It’s determined that that is the document from which all knowledge shall flow. Everybody, you go to this document to move forward. What happens when that document is so detailed, that team members can’t embrace it because it’s intimidating?

That’s one of the key things in the planning stage, is to make sure that you don’t have so much detail in there. It’s easy enough to come up with it in planning, but when you move to execution, it’s difficult to maintain it and to keep it updated with a current status. You have to put in a reasonable amount of data into your schedules and your budgets that can be followed. When it doesn’t happen, when people aren’t following that plan and you start to get off the baseline and you start getting away from those dates that we said we were going to hit, we have to re-plan. We have to start optimizing our plan and figuring out how we’re going to change the approach to get back on the baseline for this. Are we going to start doing some tasks in parallel, or we’re going to add more resources? There’s about thirteen different things we can do to try and get that project back on track.

I definitely agree with all of those techniques. I’m a project manager, but I’m also a change manager by heart. When I notice that if my project plan is too detailed, which sometimes happens depending on how complex, particularly when you’re dealing with IT solutions or complex requirements, I like to break it out. I lead first, and then I project manage second. I may not go into a meeting with that large dense project schedule, but I may go into the meeting with a PowerPoint. It’s sharing the same information, but just visualizing it differently so it can be consumed by the stakeholders in the room.

Sometimes when you put a project plan in front of people, it intimidates them. Some people don’t want to deal with all of that. For some people, even an Excel document is too much. It goes back to knowing your stakeholders and understanding how was it that they like to be communicated, and bringing them along the journey in a way that they can consume it. You do the project planning and you use the tools to enable the project in the back end, but sometimes they don’t need to see that. That’s why I call it being a leader first, and then project managing second.

MECE 020 | Project Management Skills
Project Management Skills: During execution, one of the most important things is keeping those people who have an interest in the project.

There are a lot of tools that we can use. I’m a strong advocate of project managers becoming well versed in the tools they use, whether it’s Excel, Primavera, or Microsoft Project Server. They need to learn to use that tool extremely well. When they’re presenting to their teams, they should learn to filter the information to present. If you’re keeping your project schedule up to date, then there should be no incomplete work in the past. Everything had been rescheduled to the future. What I ask my team to do is look at a 60-day look ahead window. What are the tasks that are going to be done in the next 60 days? Your window might be 30 days, depending on the type of project it is. Then I say I’m only talking to the engineering department today, or I’m only talking to the IT department today, so let me show them that. Between on time and late tasks, they just need to look at the off baseline or the late tasks, so I can go from2000 tasks down to one or two that they really need to focus on. That’s the job of a project manager when you talk about leader, is to help them focus on what’s important for the project at any one time.

One last thing on execute that is important is the kick-off. When people think about the different phases of a project, the project kickoff is the beginning. It’s the start of the project being executed. I always try to make sure people understand that distinction, because with the kick-off, that’s when you have an opportunity to get everyone together and make sure everyone is on the same page of what the marching orders are.

Everyone knows what their role is and why, and how it’s being done and how the project is being managed. That’s so critical and sometimes an overlooked part of a kickoff. I’ve seen kick-offs where people talk very high level, but they don’t go into the mechanics of how things are going to be run. For great consultants, you want to make sure that you have a well thought of kickoff that resonates with your audience. You set the ground and make sure people know what they’re doing.

Whether you think of it as the end of planning or the beginning of execution, you’re exactly right. What are some of the conventions that we’re going to use? How do we resolve conflicts? How do we identify going to do what tasks and what areas? What days are we going to have meetings? When things go wrong, what’s the chain of command? How are we going to deal with that? Above and beyond all of that, it’s important for executives or senior managers to also show up in these and lend their support. The individuals and the audience for the kick-off meeting know that this is important to them as well.

When a project fails, or it started to go awry, it is usually in those first initial phases. It’s when it can be corrected.

If you can’t do the easier part of it, where you’re doing the planning and going through the steps you should be good at, if you can’t do that in timely fashion, how are you ever going to do it when it gets into execution and controlling it? You probably will have a very difficult time getting back on track.

We’ll get to the fourth phase. I call it the monitor and control. Do you want to kick us off on what happens during this phase of a project?

In controlling, what we’re looking at is we’re comparing the plan to the updates we’re getting from the team members. How is the project progressing according to plan? Sometimes, we’re taking preventative steps to make sure something doesn’t happen. In risk planning, we may have a risk coming up in the plan that we’ve already developed a response for on how we’re going to deal with it, whether we’re going to mitigate it or transfer it to someone else. We’re applying those preventative steps, but we’re also taking corrective actions when we do get off step that we’re able to get back to the plan as a whole. There’s an old adage that says, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”Metrics becomes extremely important in this time as a way of knowing how we’re progressing. The two large areas of metrics that we deal with is, “Are we on schedule?” “Are we on budget?”

One of the things that’s been around for over 50 years has been earned value. In the beginning, it wasn’t called earned value. It was called scheduling cost control system by the US government. Today, we call it earned value, and it’s a way of measuring where we are as far as time. Are we getting those deliverables done the way we plan to get them done? Have we done everything we said we do by the status date? Are we on budget for doing it? This is a fairly standard way. It used to be reserved for the military and government agencies. It’s required by many government agencies today to use earned value, but you see it creeping into the commercial world too. More and more privately and publicly held companies are using earned value. Things like earned value, plan value, actual cost, estimate to complete, estimate at completion, complete performance index. These are all metrics, and so it’s becoming even more important that we understand how to read them and how to interpret them

If you hear someone is a project manager and they’re not bringing these types of quantitative insights to the client in terms of how a project is being managed or the benefits being realized on that, that’s not project management. I would call that a coordinator role. When you think about good to great project manager, I think a great project manager is one that is bringing those insights. They know the scope, they understand where it is, but they’re also tracking it in a way that everyone can relate.

It goes back to tying it back to the strategic objectives, but also to the financials, because that’s what it’s usually all about, particularly when you cost cutting projects and some projects to increase in revenue. 

You have to be able to tie it back to some metric. I hear a lot of people talk about how product management can be administrative. If you are a project manager and you never used earned value and you never calculated the estimate to complete, you may want to go back and look at how you can incorporate that and bring those insights to your project, because it will take the performance of your engagement to the next level, and you’ll be able to figure out along the way how to course correct as needed and bring in stakeholders along.

It’s not so much about what we’ve done, because once we’ve completed part of our schedule, we can’t go back and undo what we’ve done. What the most important part is looking from where we are today to the end of the project and what’s going to happen. That’s what estimate to complete and estimate at completion give us. If you have a difficult time believing in that, when you go home, what I’d like you to do is drive your car only looking through the rear-view mirror but let me know in time to get off the road before you do that.

If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Another saying that I love on my first consulting engagement shared with me is, “If it’s not documented, it does not exist.”

My father, who was a venture capitalist, used to come home and tell me, “I did $10,000 a day. I did a $15,000, I did $100,000 this month.” I said, “That’s great dad,” but it didn’t mean anything to me, because numbers by themselves mean very little. You have to compare them to something, you have to compare them to a trend, compare them to a common size statement. You have to compare them to an industry average, for it to make sense to other people. What I didn’t realize is that my dad had all these comparisons in his head, and I didn’t have those comparisons at that age. It meant something to him and others like him, but not to me at that young age. You could have great metrics for one period, and the metrics could be equally good the next period, but they could be declining and the trend could be declined. You don’t want to wait until they go negative, you want to take some corrective action along the way.

My last thing around monitoring and control, to me that’s the phase of managing promises. You got to make sure that you’re managing not only the scope, the budget, but you’re also managing stakeholder expectations, which is the biggest part of it. It’s not about what happened in the past, it’s about what you can do in the future. Once you start to learn certain things, understand that you can always reset expectations. You can always wake up and say, “I’m going to take this to the next level.”You can start a new tomorrow and start it step by step. Start looking at that phase as the managing of promises, and you’ll do better. Last phase of a typical project is the close phase. It’s favorite phase. What are your thoughts on the close phase of a project?  

I have to say that this is the phase or the end of the project that is most often not given enough attention. Many of these energizer bunny projects that tend to go on and on forever, and there are some definite steps that need to be taken towards the end of the project to make sure that we get closure. Least of all, we need to make sure that the client signs off on the work that we’ve done and we get approval on that, but even more important than that is capturing the lessons learned and making sure that we learned from our mistakes and we learn what we did well. We take that learning and we incorporate it into the corporate knowledge base so that everybody can benefit from that knowledge. If all we’re doing is holding a meeting and talking about what went right and what went wrong and then that disappears, we’ve wasted a lot of energy and money in the lesson that we have learned.

You have to finish a project just as strong as you started it. One of the most important meetings in a project is that lessons learned workshop. I’ve heard it called post mortem. I had a client one time at a firm I used to work for. They called it post-mortem. I said “You wanted me to schedule a meeting. It was something about death. What was it about again?” 

To that point, one of the important things is that we not just do the lessons learned at the end of the project. Sometimes these projects stretch on for eighteen months, maybe two years, and you’re going to forget a lot of the best lessons learned. At the end of each of these stages, it’s probably a good idea to hold a brief meeting and ask, “What did we do well? What could we have improved on this last time?” We also need to make sure that we don’t shoot the messenger. We encourage people. If someone says, “I made this mistake,” we don’t berate them for the mistake they made, because you’re not going to tell you in the future when they make mistakes. We want to encourage them to have that forth right attitude to share with us what went wrong and how we might avoid it in the future.

MECE 020 | Project Management Skills
Project Management Skills: What the most important part is looking from where we are today to the end of the project and what’s going to happen.

I also want to reiterate the fact that you can go through these different stages of a project and not be at the end of the project. It can be the end of a phase, it can be the end of stage gates, it can be the end of a work stream. Whenever there’s some end, whatever that end is, it doesn’t mean that you’re rolling off the project or not, it’s just the end of one component in the beginning of a new, is when I would consider these techniques. Any other thoughts on close phase or any other phases? 

The five phases of initiate, planning, execution, controlling, and closing. You have a recipe. The recipe can feed ten people. Your recipe has been discovered by Oprah. Oprah is throwing a convention. The convention will see 10,000 people. They want to use your recipe. Your recipe is created to feed ten people. Going through the five steps that we went through, initiate, planning, execution, controlling and closing, how would you go about taking that ten-person recipe, project managing it, to get it to the point where you can now feed 10,000 people in one sitting with the same quality as you would with the ten-person original recipe?

I have a risk attitude, and so I’m already thinking of, “Does it scale?” For instance, you can’t just double all the ingredients and have it come out tasting well, some ingredients taste a lot stronger. I need to make sure that I have pots and pans and cooking utensils that can handle that volume. I need to know that I have enough people to serve that. There’s so many things that I’m asking questions about. Can I do it in the amount of time that’s available to me? What time do we need to start? What time do I need to finish? What are my contingencies if something goes wrong? If a particular part of it falls apart or doesn’t cook right, do I have a buffer to make up for it?

There definitely is a quality management to consider. The other piece of that is who’s my team? Who am I training to help me build that? From a timeline perspective, am I supposed to serve all 10,000 at the same time, or can it be done over a certain amount of days? Then the other thing is what’s the cost? How much is it going to cost to buy all the ingredients? Making it for $10,000, is it a charity thing or are we trying to make money? It goes back to the goal of the scaling to from ten to $10,000.What is it that we’re trying to do?

Do I understand all the requirements that are in this, or is the person who asked me to put this together for 10,000 people going to come to me halfway through it and say, “We didn’t talk about dessert, but I’d you to also throw dessert?“What does that do to my budget? What does that do to my timeline in this? Who’s going to approve that change? That’s part of the fun of project management, is the creative part that goes into project management. Even with all the documents and things that you produce so that you’re thinking of the right questions at the right time, there’s still so much room for creativity in the way that we do projects.

What would you say is the state of project management? You talked about people, passion, and purpose in the digital age. What would be one thought you can share with the go-getters that may be new to consulting? They’re new to the whole idea of project management as a discipline. What are some things that they should start to consider for being the project manager of the future?  

There are two things that are big. One is benefits realization and making sure that what we promised to our stakeholders and what we’re going to deliver at the end of the project, we’re measuring it. What’s in the business case for the project gets realized down the road. That’s one thing, but the other big topic, is scrum. Even though it’s been around for a while, the utilization of Agile Scrum and extreme programming not only is used in IT, but now you’re seeing a proliferation of it being used in all sorts of projects.

I’m so glad that you agreed to be part of this because I cannot stress enough how important project management is as a skill set for consultants. Thank you both for being our guest on our show. If you have a particular question or feedback, feel free to drop us a line at MECEMuseUnplugged@Gmail.com. I’d like to thank Ed and Stephanie from the International Institute of Learning.

Links from today’s episode: