The Work To the Left of Proposal, part 2

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff, ProjectExperts CEO.
In Part 1 of this 2-part series, we discussed the importance of the actions of the first 10% of any project or program, the Buyer/Seller relationship in any complex project, and the role of Business Development in assuring success in each of those areas. In this part, we disclose a bit more of the attraction of Business Development, then introduce another key role that every complex project or program requires.

The Attraction of Business Development
Why should Project and Program Managers include and embrace the role of Business Development (BD) Managers in our initiatives? Several reasons, from our perspective. First, despite our best efforts, PM has been relegated from strategic to tactical in too many organizations. It was not always this way. In an earlier era, the PM was the “go-to person” who not only participated in the analysis of changes needed to establish competitive strategies, but also planned those needed to implement them.

Over the last 30 years we have seen and lamented that we we need to, as we say in our article, “Let’s Cure The Dumbing Down of Project Management”. While we came to PM from a Strategic Planning background, most others do not. And that is where BD comes in. Just as with Strategic Planning, BD is wide and thin; Project Management tends to be narrow and deep. A match made in heaven. Not only that, PMs could learn a thing or two about getting close to customers, alignment to organization strategy, and fixation with business results. On the other hand, this divergence in perspectives helps explain why some PMs don’t get along well with BD Managers.

Meanwhile, less-competent PMs are overly worried about the long-obsolete triple constraint or golden triangle, rather than whether the organization actually benefits from project efforts. So the gap has significantly widened between Organization Strategies, business needs, Business Development interests, and some flavors of PM. Of course, that is one of the reasons we formed IPMA-USA, to help return to the days of PM advancement, rather than regression.

Just as our ProjectExperts consulting firm matched Program proposal teams with the delivery teams in the 1980s to improve initiative success, today we are matching competent PMs with stellar BD Managers to improve project success and buyer benefit realization. For more about BD, visit IPMA-USA’s strategic alliance partner, Business Development Institute. While there, check out the BD-CMM, a maturity model for improving BD in your organization.

The Role of Contract Managers
The key third party in this troica of organizational change agents, after PM and BD is the Contract Managers. Consisting of Functional Managers, Lawyers, Procurement Officers and others, these are the parties on both sides, Buyer and Seller, who assure that both parties meet their commitments and needs. While Shakespeare is said to have his character in Henry VI proclaim, “first thing we do, we kill all the Lawyers” (I believe they called them solicitors then), today”s Contract Managers are the best friend of the PM–and of the buyer”s stakeholders.

The USA boasts two professional organizations for Contract Managers. IACCM, The International Association for Contract and Commercial Management, serves both buyers and sellers in organizations. This makes for a very interesting arrangement, as buyers and sellers are learning to collaborate, and through this innovative organization, are establishing an entirely new approach of win/win. An International organization, IACCM is also a Strategic Alliance partner with IPMA, International Project Management Association, of which IPMA-USA is the USA Member.

NCMA, the National Contract Management Association, focuses upon improving performance in Government contracts. One NCMA initiative, Shoulder-to-Shoulder, is bringing buyers and sellers together, to reduce risk, improve performance, reduce cost to government, while improving seller profitability–all while improving the practice of Contract Management. These are the types of actions we achieved in our consulting practice throughout the 1980s, to truly eliminate the overpriced hammers and toilet seats–and now NCMA is helping get it all done!

PM View of CM
Some PMs have a negative view of Contract Managers. Unfortunately, much of that view was formerly well-earned. CM as blockage, CM as not-always-trustful, CM as raising last-minute barriers. On the other hand, the Contract Managers we have spoken with have their own stories about PM: Causing them to be involved too late to save the”deal”. Ignored when they raise risks; blamed for the failures.

And now, because of the efforts of the two organizations named above, plus countless dedicated Contract Managers, plus the efforts of IPMA and IPMA-USA on the PM side, we are making tremendous progress in learning how to work together, building on our common strengths, and learning more about our teammates” competences. We have spoken at the major events of each of these groups this year, and extended an open hand to their participants. In both cases, the combination of relief and excitement were huge.

Easy Improvement of Contract Results
We suggest that you visit the Contract Management association websites highlighted above. Our learning over the last several years, as we became actively involved in these organizations, has been huge. Our (ProjectExperts) PM Clients have already benefited from these newfound (for us), and unique in the PM community, insights. Have you?