Tuesday, 11 August 2015 12:41

Have You QA'd Your Project Processes Lately?

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Best practices are best practices, right?  Ummm…yeah…no.  What you started out doing on projects five years ago may not be what you should be doing today for your projects and project clients.  Look at how your organization has changed.  Has your industry changed?  Have your customers changed?  Things just don’t stay the same in today’s world.  They say business moves at the speed of change.  What is that change?  How much has changed?  You have first to consider these questions before you can figure out how to respond to those changes.

Do you need to update your delivery methods and processes on projects?  Probably.  But there are key things you need to consider – it’s not just a situation where you brainstorm on what to do better.  You must consider your organization, your project clients, the technology you use and deliver, your industry, and even your senior management’s plans.  Let’s discuss the following and see how to approach this.

Consider how your organization has changed.  Is your organization where it was five or ten years ago?  Not likely.  Is it tied to the same industry?  Likely.  But it has also likely expanded beyond the boundaries of its earlier mapped out mission, goals, and industry walls.  The landscape of nearly every organization and nearly every industry has changed.  We must figure out how our project management infrastructure needs to change to fit the needs of our organization.  Does reporting to senior management need to change?  Or maybe you weren’t doing that before, and now you need to.  Let’s map that out as a PM team and get it right the first time.  Guessing and tweaking over and over does no one any good and will just frustrate your executive management team.

Consider how your clients have changed.  Do you have the same project clients you had five years ago?  Are you delivering the same types of project solutions to them?  If many of your clients are the same, this PM introspective is probably a good time to sit down with some of the best of the best clients and quiz them on a few things.  Ask them how their businesses have changed over the last five years.  Ask them how they think the industry has changed during that timeframe.  You may already be learning this through lessons learned sessions, but ask them how you can be serving them better on the projects that you are leading for them.  Sometimes it’s tough to hear, but you want the real picture, right?  The flip side is for them just to walk away after the next project or the current project, and you don’t want that.  Ask them – and then take that info back as a PM group and use it to analyze how you are delivering on your projects.  Are you meeting those needs?  What can you change to better suit your customers’ needs and to deliver better they way they just told you they’d like to see you deliver.  Don't fail to act on this important insight you were just handed by valued project clients.  Do something about it.

Consider how your industry has changed.  Has your industry changed significantly so as to force you to consider how you are delivering projects?  Sometimes regulations change, reporting needs change, compliance requirements change.  Sometimes you have to revisit these processes periodically just for legal reasons alone.  But if you’re an industry leader – or strive to be one – then you need to periodically assess where you stand in that industry and look at your internal processes to see where they may be holding you back or keeping you from grabbing the biggest project clients in your particular industry.  And change.

Consider the changing technology for the types of solutions you are implementing.  Has the technology landscape changed for the types of projects you are delivering?  Most likely the answer to this is yes.  Technology is always changing.  And if you are remaining stagnate, going with the status quo, then you are going to get passed by every close competitor in your industry.  Stay current, train staff, and analyze how you can offer and utilize the latest technology on upcoming projects.

Check in with senior management.  This may seem like an after thought, but you need to know where your company’s senior management is going.  They may be changing a delivery focus.  They may be changing a technology or product focus.  They may be changing a customer landscape focus.  What they are planning for the next one to five years could affect the project delivery system in your organization, and you need to know that.  Ask.  If you’re not the PMO director, get them to ask.  Or, if you’re connected with C-levels in the organization, ask them.  It’s important to be thinking about the company direction when you are working to figure out the best way to be delivering on projects now and in the short and long term future.  Project success can be fleeting as we all know.  Be informed of the company roadmap as best you can so as to be making the best decisions on any process changes in your project delivery processes and methodology.

Nothing stays the same.  Times change.  Needs change.  Technology definitely changes.  Customer wants and needs change.  The organization that doesn’t periodically re-evaluate how and what they are delivering loses.  Period.  As an organization and yes, as a project management infrastructure, we need to bear witness to these changes and evaluate whether or not we need to change how and what we are delivering.  Most likely we do.   

One way organizations evaluate how what may need to change is to have brainstorming sessions with project managers and key project team members every year or every six months.  Look at templates, policies, processes, lessons learned.  Evaluate what is working, and what should change.  And, together, propose those changes and begin to incorporate those changes during such brainstorming sessions.

How does your organization analyze the need to change and incorporate project process changes?  What steps, if any, do you go through?  Please share and discuss.

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Brad Egeland

PMTopContributorBrad Egeland is a Business Solution Designer and IT/PM consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Creative Design, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. Brad is married, a father of 11, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad's site at http://www.bradegeland.com/.

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