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Ready, set, go – does your organisation support projects?

By Trish Thurley, Project Management Master Trainer

Virtually anyone in business today will be working on some kind of project, most being initiated by someone more superior to us. They may be large, with multiple colleagues in a project team, or something that you are trying to do as well as your day job.

An environment to succeed

  • A frequent challenge for attendees of our project management workshops is the lack of support from their senior stakeholders.
  • HR professionals regularly contact us because they notice a lot of projects fail or are not delivered on time, on budget and on target.
  • Senior managers often admit to us that they ‘fire-off’ too many projects without giving the time, the right tools, resources and environment. They also often admit that they don’t understand the project management process enough to be able to effectively support the person managing the project.

Here’s an example of what you or your team members could be experiencing: Julia gave an exasperated sigh as she put the phone down. Speaking to the Commercial Director about the new website, he was utterly opposed to her own boss about what they should do to meet the aggressive launch date. Get in more resources or cut scope?

She was being ‘pin-balled’ between the two senior managers. Why was this so much more difficult than at her last company? She had been brought in with such high hopes, to manage this, and other changes, because of her experience.

Later, over a coffee, Julia was listening to her good friend (and ‘secret’ mentor) Sandra. “One of the keys to successful change is great sponsorship, but so few senior managers know what this looks like or how to do it well”.

“Getting an effective ‘decision making unit (DMU)’ (a Sponsor or Steerco) with good governance, is like putting a turbo charger on your standard car”, said Sandra. “In my experience, and there is research to back this up, this is a key contributor to the organisation- moving faster and being more resilient to knockbacks”.

  • Read our snapshots of research supporting the management of change.
  • Need to improve your project management skills, take a look at the Project Management Survival Guide™.
  • Sponsoring projects and the need to understand project management from a sponsor’s perspective, take a look at Sponsoring Projects™.

Lack of support = failure

One of the biggest project failures in recent history has been the ‘G4S – London Olympic and Paralympic Games security contract’. The G4S Board review concluded:

  • The organisation was capable: “The Olympic contract was unique in terms of scale and complexity, but notwithstanding this, the Company was capable of fulfilling the contract; the issue was in its delivery.”
  • The organisation didn’t create the environment required: “The Company has management and other structures and processes that have proved highly effective in delivering the Company’s regular business over many years but it did not recognise these structures and processes needed augmenting for the Olympic contract.”
  • Change was required: “We are taking actions in relation to both the management and governance of G4S”, “learning lessons from this contract, to ensure that best practices are applied across the entire business.”
  • Creating the environment: “more rigorous risk assessment for new contracts and improved contracts take-on processes and project management.”


We have a range of project management workshops that are aligned to APM best practice:

  • Practical Projects™ is for anyone who wants to understand the fundamentals of project management, available in-house and as a public workshop. More…
  • Managing Projects™ the next-step from Practical Projects™ for anyone who needs more than just the fundamentals, available in-house and as a public workshop. More…
  • Project Management Survival Guide™ is the comprehensive project management workshop that helps everyone involved in projects to plan, deliver and reduce the risk of expensive project failure. Available in-house and as a public workshop. More…
  • Agile Project Fundamentals™ – focuses on the practical steps needed to run, or play a part in, an Agile project. It provides you with the principles, tools and techniques that can be used in the workplace to ensure you deliver maximum project value, on time to budget, every time. More…
  • Sponsoring Projects™ will help those involved in sponsoring, resourcing, governing and controlling the delivery of projects, alongside their operational responsibilities. Available as an in-house workshop. More…