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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 informed.

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 business.


3. Recruiting professionals from outside to ‘raise your game’

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.


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