Scoping for Project Management Development

The issue:

New product and service development and new market testing is undertaken as multi-million Dollar projects by all companies across the group’s global oil and gas service portfolio, until sustained operation usually requires projects to expand into their own corporate structure.  Often such projects begin as offshoots or pilots that are additional to the companies’ core businesses.  As such, permanent core staff are often fully deployed on long-term core business, and are unavailable for short-term project work.  In the face of unacceptably high numbers of contracted project managers across the business, who use a variety of project management methodologies and systems without due regard to knowledge and skills transfer, the group needed to scope the business case for developing a credible in-house project management resource at post-graduate level.

The solution constraints:

External factors included:

  • The risk that market downturn might restrict current and future project management opportunities
  • That such investment in development might ultimately benefit competitors.

Internal factors included:

  • The continuing need for short-term contracted project managers
  • Reluctance to invest in the medium-term benefit returns of staff development
  • A lack of experienced high-quality mentors across the business to guide the application of new project management knowledge and skills into a uniform methodology and system throughout the group
  • Suggested post-graduate level development is potentially too academically oriented
  • That some non-academic candidates may not qualify for admission to the programme, may not pass the required standard, or may not finish the course
  • That good candidates will use the development opportunity to move out of project and into senior operational management.

The solution:

A consultation was facilitated between a sponsoring group director and the heads of project management, HR and training and development from the different companies across the group in response to an internal proposal for a four-year project management programme at post-graduate level, accredited by a university and supported by an internal coaching and mentoring resource.

The consultation provided an opportunity:

a)    To present a robust business case for investment in the in-house development of a world-class project management resource

b)    To discuss the preferred participant profiles, admissions criteria, and the implications of sustained participant support throughout the four-year programme from line managers and project management mentors

c)     To discuss the opportunities for application of the new learning and skills within the business

d)    To discuss the job opportunities and incentives that can retain and develop the return on investment within the business.

The outcome:

By the end of the consultation, the participants had:

  • A clear and shared understanding of the short-term benefits of contracted project managers in comparison to the medium- to long-term cost of an inadequate in-house resource
  • A shared commitment to investment in project management training and development of staff
  • An adequate understanding of the implications of a project management training and development programme in terms of ongoing support, skills application and eventual job opportunities
  • The need to explore other programme delivery options, including a non-university accredited in-house project management practical skills academy that is more closely allied to the changing needs of the business.

The Taylor Clarke Partnership

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"Yemen LNG has now matured to the stage where these lessons and values are being delivered by internal resources and this is directly due to the quality of coaching, training, guidance and facilitation which was delivered by the consultants’ multi-talented and highly versatile team. We continue to apply the lessons learned, and are a stronger organisation as a result."

By Phil Campbell, Yemen LNG HR Director

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