This is the first in a series of articles on large-capital-expenditure program management in the energy and infrastructure sectors. The second article is “Why Project Managers Should Reward Bad News.”
The science of managing large-capital-expenditure energy projects has undergone considerable development. Google “large project management” and you’ll quickly get a sense of the abundance of information now available on the subject: a host of consulting companies, auditing firms, software publishers, and others offer a variety of managerial tools and rules, including sophisticated frameworks, templates, reporting models, software, and workflows. Yet major projects often encounter delays and cost overruns. There must be a flaw in the science somewhere.
We believe it lies in something the literature does not address: what the people involved in the project are actually doing. Conventional wisdom holds that successful project management largely hinges on having the right managerial tools and rules in place. But project outcomes are ultimately determined by overlapping human actions that are driven by the requirements of the work that individuals are doing and their behaviors and decisions as they do that work. Surely, project management philosophies should reflect this fact and focus on how to influence those workplace realities to the project’s advantage?