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Why hiring a project manager from system integrators is problematic

When companies plan for the management of transformative projects, they have several options to source the required project management skills and resources. While doing this internally or using the chosen system integrator may seem like a straightforward choice, these options come with a few important challenges that are worth considering.

Own employees

The first and most natural option is to look for internal experts to run the project. The benefit is that they know the business and organisation from day one.

Since modern organisations are quite lean, they often have limited capacity and competence beyond the running of normal daily operations. Similarly, only a few organisations can offer continuously challenging projects for project managers and thereby keep the best talent. In practice, staffing from a company’s own human resources is seldom enough.

When the project aims to promote the common good of the whole company, it can be problematic that employees tend to represent their own business line or geography. Can the project manager rise above this? And do the others trust their neutrality?


Global systems integrators

The external vendors implementing the (systems) changes willingly provide the project management service to the customer, since it is an extension of and a high-value add-on to their normal service. In the deal negotiation phase this may seem very attractive, since:

a)    it will reduce the negotiation and management burden on the customer side

b)    the vendor can demonstrate very high levels of skill and competence

c)    the cost may seem low, as it is bundled with lower cost work at a mixed rate

The problems often begin as soon as the deal is signed. The initially offered professionals have frequently moved to other projects, as they were only doing sales support.

Typically, global systems integrators have a global delivery model, which allows for a local project manager pool in only their largest markets, which frequently do not include Finland or Scandinavia. Many times, we have witnessed these companies win a deal and start to subcontract local freelancers to fill in the gaps. The problem is that external subcontractors are not part of the global delivery model nor the company culture, thus remaining outsiders without a true impact.

If these professionals come from a global pool, they can bring good global experience, but lack understanding of local business operations and decision-making finesses. The learning curve has proven to be relatively long. Covid-19 restrictions have worsened this weakness drastically due to a limited ability to be on-site.

Highly professional project managers are also expensive internal resources for global companies. When problems arise, they are typically the first to be let go as the vendor tries to maintain the project’s profitability. Often, they are replaced with less skilled, low-cost resources.

Finally, another problem is that the one “who pays the piper, calls the tune”, meaning that in tough situations, they cannot remain professional and impartial but instead represent their company and become part of the problem. We have seen multiple cases of the “emperor’s new clothes”, where a vendor and their project managers completely ignore or even cover up obvious problems.


A professional project management consultancy

Selecting an independent and unbiased project management consultancy brings the benefit of having no interests other than a project implemented to the client organisation’s needs.

Midagon provides project management as a service through carefully selected and highly experienced project managers. To further secure the customer’s success, Midagon’s consultants are also subject matter experts in selected project content areas who know what they are doing rather than just managing others.

Meticulous recruitment, development and management processes secure a high level of competence consistently. This is a major benefit compared to resource hiring agencies or individual consultants.

Something we hold deep in our values and belief-system is that we are independent without any ties to external technology or service providers. We only have experienced professionals whose passion and duty is simply to deliver projects. They have no responsibility to cross-sell junior consultants or other add-on services. Our clients can trust that we have only their best interests in mind, as Midagon’s project managers are always on the customer’s side of the table.

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