Do I need a Project Manager (PM) for my IT project?
All projects with lifecycle costs over $500K are required to have an assigned and qualified Project Manager (PM). However, we HIGHLY recommend that all State IT projects have a qualified project manager.
Approval of PMs for IT Projects Over $500K
Based on VT statute (Sec. E.105.1 22 V.S.A. § 901), the EPMO is required to review and approve a PM assignment for any IT project that has a lifecycle cost estimate of $500K or more. Your Oversight Project Manager will conduct this assessment through a conversation with your Business Lead and proposed PM. We have a standard questionnaire that we use as a guideline to assess PM experience. We are looking for a good match between the skills/experience of the PM and the size/complexity of the project at hand. The success of your project is our primary concern/consideration.
What NOT to look for in a PM
Having the right PM can be the difference between project success and failure. It really can! If any of the following ring true for your PM (or proposed PM), your project could be headed for Big trouble:
- No PM Experience or Lacking the Right Level of Experience: Start honing your risk mitigation plans if the PM says this will be by far the biggest PM assignment of their career. Instead, look for a PM who has experience successfully managing projects that match the size, type and complexity of your project. A Project Management Institute (PMI) certification is also a plus.
- Limited or No Availability: Do they have the time needed to take on this project role and do it well? Or will their day-to-day operational responsibilities and/or other project roles/responsibilities result in project management taking a backseat? If so, picture your project as a car going down the road with no driver or with a severely distracted one.
- Poor Communicator: Does this person have a reputation for not keeping people in the loop? If so, don’t be surprised when the lack of communication creates chaos, frustration and/or confusion among the project team. Other related considerations are meeting facilitation skills and the ability to write clear/concise/effective emails and documentation.
- Not a Detail Person &/or Not Very Organized: Ok this one should be pretty obvious. Project management is very detail oriented and requires good organizational skills.
- Hates Change: If this is true, then project management is definitely not for them. Despite the best laid project plans, there will always be changes (e.g., resources, timeline, scope, etc.). The PM needs to be able to cope effectively with any changes impacting the project.
- Doesn’t Play well with Others: You want a PM that can bring people (i.e., the team) together as well as keep them motivated and focused.
- Lacks Leadership skills: Leadership skills/ability is an important consideration. The PM needs to be the primary driver for the project.
Where to Get a Qualified PM / Retainer Procurement Process
DII has retainer master contracts with a number of Project Management vendors to make it easier/faster to contract for PM services. These vendors have signed a “master retainer” contract with DII and has already agreed to the State’s standard terms and conditions. Link to the list: Retainer Vendor List . (This process is not intended for PM contracts of more than $100K. For contracts over $100K, you’ll need to use the formal Request for Proposals process.)
Here’s how the Retainer Procurement process works:
- Your Agency/Department drafts a Procurement Statement of Work (SOW) that includes the specifics of what you need for PM services, qualifications, etc. The EPMO can provide you with a template and examples, so you don’t need to re-invent the wheel.
- Once your Procurement SOW is ready to go, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- DII’s Procurement Specialist will email the Procurement SOW to the vendors on the Project Management Retainer list.
- Your SOW will instruct respondents to send their bids to your designated contact along with DII's Procurement Specialist.
- You have total control over the PM bid selection and can choose the bidder that best meets your Agency/Department’s needs.
- Once chosen, you will need to draft a SOW agreement (but not a whole contract) for the vendor to sign. The SOW includes the agreed upon Scope of Work and price. The EPMO can provide you with a template for this too.
- Invoices and payment for these PM services will be your Agency/Department’s accountability.