This week, we’ve spoken to Kailash Awati, who writes the project management blog Eight to Late, and who currently works for a pharmaceutical multinational where he manages information systems development for the Asia Pacific region.
In your current role what frustrates you the most?
"An information systems project typically involves diverse stakeholder groups, each with their own priorities and interests.
“Reconciling these can be difficult and frustrating at times”.
What training have you had as a project manager? How highly do you rate certification?
“I think the main benefit of certifications is that they open doors as many employers value them”.
Your book The Heretic's Guide to Best Practices discusses collaborative approaches to managing complex problems in organisations - how important is collaborative project delivery?
“Large system projects involve many stakeholders and are therefore socially complex.
“This complexity is reflected in the difficulties that managers encounter when attempting to build a shared understanding of a project between all stakeholders, and, based on that, a shared commitment to a course of action.
“For such projects, collaborative approaches are the only way to go.
“The Heretic’s Guide to Best Practices is largely about how one can create the right conditions for collaborative work in organisations.
“At the heart of the book lies the notion that rational dialogue - dialogue free from political and other constraints - is the best way to build a shared understanding of a project or any other initiative, and thus elicit a shared commitment to action.
“Among many other things, the book elaborates on the concept of rational dialogue and provides a number of practical ways in which one can achieve it in organisational or project settings”.
What are the common project issues you come across whilst communicating with other project managers through your blog?
“Apart from social complexity, a couple of themes that seem to reoccur are risk and estimation.
“Although these are generally considered to be technical matters, some of the biggest challenges around them relate to issues such as politics and vested interests.
“A couple of examples:
“1. The risks associated with application outsourcing are often downplayed, especially when the focus is on reducing costs.
“2. Development teams are often pressured into lowering estimates to meet predetermined schedules or budgets.
“It is interesting to note, that the issues here are social rather than technical”.
If you could go back to the beginning of your career as a project manager, and offer yourself some key advice, what would it be?
“Pay as much attention to people as you would to processes and technology”.