Over Fifty with Shades of Grey

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Project management services

As a part of a group of professionals who are over fifty and looking to change their work focus we face challenges of a changing world of work that is in many ways reluctant to change.  We have decades of experience in varied aspects of project and change management.  As individuals we have been exposed to project management services in a wide selection of sectors.  It is true, we do  feature some shades of grey hair, but more than make up for it with balanced depth of experience and a keen need to contribute, while making good use of our skills.

Desired work life pattern

At this point in our careers we no longer wish to be confined in full time employment with a single company.  Indeed the media and the internet keeps reminding us that the old concepts of a job for life with a single employer is unlikely  to come about.  Yet organisations and employment agencies encourage a range of models to either focus on full time employment, or contracts in roles that mimic the full time model.  HR teams now seem to be appalled by any gap in employment record, perceiving such as a poor reflection of skill and abilities.

But the changes in the near, to middle, future will mean that AI will increasingly invade most if not all areas of working life.  New patterns of work will be the norm.  A varied focus on work will be required from all generations, not just the near and post retirement aged group.

Current Model and approach by organisations

In the supply of project management and PMO services organisations have a range of approaches:

  • Establish an in-house project delivery team
  • Outsource skills for some or all of their project and programme related activities
  • Hire contractor Project Managers. Programme Manager and PMO
  • A combination of the other approaches

Each has a mixture of pro’s and con’s

In-House solution

Where there are a significant amount of projects and change having an in-house team of employed project managers is an effective solution.  It means that you have a team that understands your culture and the style of the organisation.  It also can be far more cost effective than hiring in contractors or external consultants; provided you have the volume of work to justify the team size, and you hire the right team members.  Many organisations are revisiting the case for in-house services. But where the volume of work flexes or the type of projects varies considerably the in house model can be strained.


Outsourcing project management services allows a flexible team and can be great at covering peaks and troughs in the your cycle.  But the outsourced team will not know your business and often consist of a high volume of less experienced staff.  So even though the outsource model looks attractive from a cost point of view, the value offered can fall short of the price tag. Outsourcing the project delivery function is a difficult thing to get right. Get the model right, and outsourcing can work well for a time.  Many organisations are bringing outsourced options back in house.

Contract Staff

There are a range of pro’s and con’s to contractors in project management services. Some of these are explored in this Forbes article.  Although that article focuses on a US perspective many of the points covered are common to the UK and EU.  Contractors offer flexibility of staffing, but reduce the organisations control.  They are great for assignments in the 3-12 months range.  But measures like IR35 and moves to treat them more like employees are making the model less attractive to organisations and contractors alike.  Contractors are not likely to become part of the team like employees.

A Combination Approach

A combination of approach can offer the best flexible solution for project management services.  But there is an overhead to the hybrid approach, with more management effort required.  Getting the right balance of inhouse, external and contractor mix is difficult;  maintaining that over time is even more difficult.  But for those that have the capacity to manage the combined approach it can offer the best combination possible.

Gaps in the Model

On occasions organisations need short term focus activity within their project management services.  In these instances they either have to rely on their current workforce or hire expensive consultants.    Does your team have people with the skills and experience to do one-off specialised activities. Tasks like maturity assessments or improvement planning call for specific skill and experience.  Even where you might have the skills in-house to provide service, do the people involved have the capacity in their current workload.

The big consultancies often provide short term studies and step improvement help, but are very expensive.  How many times have you seen senior, experts assess an assignment only to have the service delivered by junior staff.

We seek to fill this gap, with depth of experience at a reasonable cost. We actively seek the short term involvement that can help you kick start change.  As a group we are keen to help you improve your project management services.  If this is a model you feel worth exploring more then contact us for more information.

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