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Project Execution Solutions: People

The critical elements of successful project execution are People, Process, Technology, and Governance. You consistently deliver results when all of these dimensions are well defined, fully implemented, well-managed, and fully adopted. They must be both adopted individually and integrated together to enable each other for success.

This post covers the first and foremost of these dimensions.


In our related post on project execution challenges, we covered four permutations of challenges an organization can have with regards to its people.  These are: a shortage of practitioners, a missing competency among the practitioners, a shortage of leaders, and a lack of leadership skill.

The solution to a shortage of practitioners and leaders is the same: project staffing. That might mean finding help within the organization. It may mean hiring new people through your own Human Resources department. Or you can outsource the process altogether. In any case, the below graphic provides the process for how to deliver this:

Staffing process

While the process is the same, the stakes are higher for finding project leadership talent. Don’t treat project managers like a commodity. They are not interchangeable products, and choosing the wrong one costs an organization’s time, dollars, morale, and efficiency. The impact of a poor hire is multiplied when it occurs at position as crucial as project manager. So it is important to prioritize best fit, rather than giving into the urgency of unrealistic schedule and budget expectations. In this case, haste truly makes waste.

For more detail we have an entire white paper dedicated to this subject, which you can get here.


If there is a lack of skills among the practitioners, then the solution is training, coaching, and mentoring in the specific competency that needs development. If there is a lack of skill among leadership, then the solution can be more complex because the necessary skills of leaders do not always easily coexist within an organizations politics. As the old fable has it, being a good project manager often means pointing out that the Emperor has no clothes, which a savvy person who is conscientious of their job security might not be willing to do if it means getting the guillotine.

Organizations, then, often focus on the functional skills necessary to be qualified as a project manager, but what separates qualified project managers from bona fide project leaders are the soft skills that are difficult to spot. The below graphic shows the difference between the “good enough” skills for hiring, and the necessary traits to have a meaningful impact on the organization:

Technical vs Leadership skills

The dimension of “People” goes beyond the literal humans running the ship. It refers to the entire structure that allows them to be effective. So organizational structure, organizational incentives, organizational framework, job descriptions, et al falls under People.

Click here to learn more about Project Assistants’ staffing offerings.

To read our next post on Technology and Governance, click here.

To read our series on the project execution challenges, click here.

Our entire white paper on addressing the execution and strategy challenges of PPM is available for free here.