Yes, it's my own concept but even I can be a visionary. So what does 3D project management mean? How do I see it and is it anything new? I'm not sure what will be new to you, but I think it's really a culmination of several things that are sometimes happening wrapped into a perfect package of everything that should or could be happening. When you're hoping, professing and being a visionary, the sky is the limit, right?
Seriously though... my concept of 3D project management is both do-able and best practice focused as well as being the building blocks to CUSTOMER satisfaction... which is what this should all be about. Not pleasing revenue driven supervisors and C-levels but rather the project customers we are serving. Two projects totaling more than $2.5 million dollars were utter failures because I listened to my PMO director rather than doing what I wanted to do that I thought would be doing right by my project customer. I won't go into detail, but it has resulted in my long time motto: “You're only as successful as your last customer thinks you are...”
Here are the key ingredients to what I will call 3D Project Management – the 3D being customer-centric, efficiently oriented, and best practice driven. In that vein let's consider these concepts that should make your projects more efficient, successful and customer satisfaction focused.
Start with transparency.
Why keep anything from the customer? Yes, not all customers want to see everything. Many really don't want to see ongoing project expenses, they just want you to manage the budget and tell them as early as possible if it looks like money might run out. I can do that. But I'd much rather manage it on a section of the status report so everyone can see it at any time. One report size fits all, right? I only want to produce one status report so whether you like it or not, you're going to see it. I've also had project customers who only wanted an issues list and have that drive the weekly status call. Ok, I can see that, but you're going to still get a detailed status report with key project schedule info including what's just been accomplished, what's happening now and what's about to start up. Sorry, but I don't want any excuses or claims of ignorance. Not on my watch. You get it... but you don't have to look at it or like it.
Why lessons learned is good for you.
Just do it. That's my motto on lessons learned. My own survey from a few years ago indicated that nearly 60% of project managers really never conduct any meaningful lessons learned sessions. Don't wait till the end... that's the main problem. Everyone is done... either cowering from a bad project and ready to move on without the tongue lashing they are expecting or they are basking in the glory of a great project and are in high demand to move to the next engagement they are assigned to. Either way, it just isn't happening often enough. The alternative? Several mid-project lessons learned sessions – conducted as key deliverables are delivered. Performing lessons learned this way – in several sessions placed strategically throughout the project allows us to take advantage of the findings now on the current project with the current customer rather than maybe take advantage of those discussions on a future project. It just makes good sense.
Remote project management and virtual teams are the future.
I've been working remotely and managing project teams remotely for the past 12 years and periodically before that. If you say it can't work well over time, you're wrong. And I'm a firm believer that if you allow talented workers the option to work where they are or move, you'll be able to acquire the best talent period – sometimes for less because you're not requiring them to move – rather than just get those workers to come to you. Most of the very best will never come to you when they could go anywhere. Right now life is so busy for us that in order for me to get real work done I need to work from home without wasting many hours per week driving. We even have our groceries delivered. This is 2018 and most of us are looking at ways to get more done without wasting time and lives away. Convenience is a good thing... but then again I was never a believer in the water cooler talk being productive. Work smarter not longer or harder.
Virtual teams – with everyone geographically dispersed is also very possible and productive. I've managed several successful projects where most of the team never met each other in person. I've worked with many clients – consulting and on projects – that I've never even talked to in person... let alone personally met. Just email correspondence. Of course, not large $ million projects...but projects and engagements that are much smaller can certainly be handled with fairly minimal communication as long as you use what you are using wisely, efficiently and effectively. Employees and consultants – you can do it if you focus. Employers, trust your employees to use their time wisely and manage efficiently until they prove otherwise.
New tech will drive efficiency.
New technology will definitely be in play. Artificial intelligence (AI)? Yes. Smart reporting of both project status and issues can be handled by AI over time as well as other issues. I think we will begin to see this near the end of 2018 and into 2019. Meetings? I think holographic meetings will take the place of any airline travel to be in the same location as other project team members or stakeholders or even the customer. In 2018 it's crazy – on most projects – to require people to be co-located. Holographic meetings are already available, but the technology needs more advanced than just a box with a head in it... we should be able to do an entire desk and person or person at a table putting everyone virtually in the same room without really being in the same room. That will be happening by late 2018 or early 2019. That's 3D project management at it's best.
The perfect meeting can still exist.
And finally, we will have meeting methodologies that produce the perfect meeting. That includes proper planning and prep, not just calling a meeting for an hour from now to make a decision (unless that is absolutely necessary). Plan, send out materials, start on time, finish on time, be respectful and focused and contribute, and followup afterwards to ensure everyone is on the same page. Most failed projects are due to poor communication and mis-understandings. If everyone is always on the same page – and the project manager (with the possible help of AI) is continually focused on ensuring that – then failed projects can be a thing of the past.
Summary / call for feedback
Most of this – aside from full transparency that I know not everyone believes is a good thing and the strange and cutting edge technology – are really just best practices. Even logical best practices. And I'm certain my ideas and key concepts of 3D project management will evolve more over time. What are your thoughts on this list? What would you add to it as new, best in class and potentially necessary concepts that need to become reality in project management?