Wednesday, 12 May 2010 13:08

Implementing Project Management at a Functional Organization. Part 2.

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Additional Items and Next Steps

This is a continuation of Implementing Project Management at a Functional Organization. At the conclusion of the first phase of our work, a list of action items was given to the company based on the issues identified in the first stage.  If you wish to reference the first part of this article, which appeared on May 5, 2010, please click here.

We also strongly recommended to the company's management that they try to capture the "before" organizational project performance metrics with respect to time, budget, scope and stakeholder satisfaction. This data will be required in order to compare the results of the pilot project and decide whether it is beneficial for the company to move ahead to the next step in the project management framework initiative.

Further, it will be necessary to consider an efficient way of communicating project results (Phase 1 and all subsequent phases) to the entire company at each key milestone of the entire program. To this end, we proposed the creation of a "Project Management Framework" page on the company Intranet.

ImplementingPM-part2-1
Figure 2

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 3

Introduce project management methodology (v1.0) Revise and update project management methodology (v2.0) Revise and update project management methodology (v3.0)
Introduce project management documentation (v1.0) Revise and update project management documentation (v2.0) Revise and update project management documentation (v3.0)
Conduct company-wide project management workshop Determine the need for further training Implement additional project management training
Commit to Strategic Project Manager (one pilot project) Introduce Strategic Project Manager (one pilot project) Introduce Strategic Project Managers (several pilot projects)
  Review the results of the pilot. Go/No go decision w.r.t. several pilot projects Review the results of the pilot. Go/No go decision w.r.t. all strategic projects
  Determine on which projects the project management methodology is now mandatory  
  Develop strategic program management/strategic resource management implementation plan Introduce project portfolio management (PPM) and develop a PPM implementation plan

Figure 3

Note: Figures 4 to 7 demonstrate the linkage between the issues voiced by the company's employees during the assessment stage of the project and the solutions proposed.

Proposal

Addresses which Issues

Explanation

Project Management Methodology Lack of communications Entire methodology is based on creation of proper documentation and peer reviews with the project stakeholders
Lack of project management methodology Self-explanatory
Lack of accountability Introduces Status Reports, Meeting Minutes and Lessons Learned documents
Lack of project feasibility/ justification analysis One of the sections of the Project Charter deals with project feasibility/justification

Figure 4

Proposal

Addresses Which Issues

Explanation

Project Management Documentation Lack of communications All documents address this issue
Lack of project management methodology All documents address this issue
Lack of accountability Status Reports, Project Charter and Project Plan
Lack of project feasibility/justification analysis Section of the Project Charter directly deals with project/ feasibility/justification

Figure 5

Proposal

Addresses Which Issues

Explanation

Project Management Workshop Lack of communications Workshop included a module dedicated to effective project communications and overview of all project management documents
Lack of proper estimation Entire workshop module was dedicated to generation, presentation and negotiation of estimates
Lack of project management methodology Workshop is dedicated to dissemination of project management skills and concepts
Lack of project feasibility/justification analysis Workshop included a discussion of project feasibility

Figure 6

Proposal

Addresses Which Issues

Explanation

Project Manager of Strategic Projects (Department-Independent) Lack of interdepartmental communications PM will be responsible for production and dissemination of all project-related documentation and conducting peer reviews across all the departments involved in the projects
Lack of uniformity in project management approach He/she will be responsible for maintaining all project documentation and following the methodology prescribed on an entire project rather than only parts of it
Lack of accountability Project Manager – Strategic Projects will be the person responsible for creation of Status Reports (accountability to project)
Lack of project feasibility/justification analysis He/she should be qualified to understand the basics of finance and be able to properly assess projects proposed
  Problem of underestimation Project Manager – Strategic Projects should be properly trained to estimate projects with appropriate degree of accuracy
  Projects are frequently over the budget or late Experienced project manager should be able to address this issue by using proper methodology, effective communications and improved project accountability

Figure 7

Implementation

Follow up

The following steps were undertaken as a result of the above-mentioned recommendations:

  1. The project management methodology proposed (see Figure 2) was validated by the focus group and approved by the senior management. There was mutual agreement that the current methodology is only the first step in developing a company-specific project management framework and will be revised and updated in each of subsequent phases.
  2. Six key project management documents (see Figure 2) were reviewed by the focus group and updated according to their feedback to better reflect the organization's realities and specifics. These documents will also be updated in the following phases based on the feedback provided by the pilot project team members.
  3. All of the people involved in projects (as project managers, team members, champions or any other types of stakeholders) have undergone a two-day project management seminar in order to familiarize them with key basics of project management.
  4. Four pilot strategic projects were selected and department independent project managers (i.e. reporting to the Director of Project Management) were hired and assigned to manage them.
  5. The project management department, with the assistance of the IT department, has created a "Project Management" section on the company Intranet where all the methodology documents and pilot project information are posted.

Lessons Learned

There were several lessons that we learned during the implementation of this initiative. Among them were:

  1. Never try to impose an "off-the-shelf" project management methodology onto a functional (traditional) organization. Instead:
    • Interview a cross-section of company employees and, if possible customers and suppliers, to obtain the real project-related issues.
    • Use a "best practices" project management methodology to tailor the solutions proposed to the concerns voiced by the people working for the organization
  2. Debrief key stakeholders at every milestone. Presentation software like PowerPoint with charts, graphs and tables is your best friend!
  3. Initially try to concentrate on the simplest forms of the methodology. If processes and documents become too complicated people will find creative ways to ignore them!
  4. Always use "focus groups" of company employees with at least a basic knowledge of project management to validate the processes and templates you are proposing. This will ensure that they are properly fine-tuned to company realities and you get buy-in.
  5. Try to determine what constitutes a project and what doesn't for that particular organization. Establish a threshold to distinguish between "project" and "business as usual".
  6. Run several one- or two-day company-wide project management seminars. Your mission is not to create several dozen project managers "overnight" but rather to familiarize all of the potential project stakeholders with the key concepts of project management.
  7. If a significant resistance to change is encountered (a very likely scenario) try to apply a phased approach. For example, select a group of pilot projects to be run under the new methodology to be followed by all flagship projects, to be followed by all projects.
  8. Introduce the role of a full-time project manager to the company. Depending on the number of pilot projects, the organization will probably require more than one.
  9. Capturing the "before and after" project related data is essential. Otherwise it would be very difficult to prove to the naysayers (and the executives) that the project performance and results have indeed improved and that the investment has been worth the effort.
  10. And finally, keep in mind that communication is the key. An intranet webpage dedicated to the new methodology and project-related news, seminars, debriefing lunch-and-learns, short updates during functional department head meetings – any combination of the above-mentioned tools should be used to carry the positive message to your organization.

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Jamal Moustafaev, MBA, PMP – president and founder of Thinktank Consulting, is an internationally acclaimed expert in the areas of project/portfolio management, scope definition, requirements analysis, process improvement and corporate training. Mr. Moustafaev is author of “Delivering Exceptional Project Results: A Practical Guide to Project Selection, Scoping, Estimation and Management” (released by J. Ross Publishing in September 2010). He is also the author of various project management and business analysis webinars delivered in partnership with Project Times:

In addition to teaching a highly acclaimed “Project Management Essentials” course at British Columbia Institute of Technology, Mr. Moustafaev also offers the following corporate seminars through his company:

“Practical Portfolio Management - Selecting & Managing The Right Projects”
“Successful Hands-On Management of IT and Software Projects” 
"Successful Hands-On Management of Modern-Day Projects” 
“From Waterfall to Agile - Practical Requirements Engineering”  

For further information, please contact: Mr. Moustafaev Phone: 778-995-4396 

E-mail::info@thinktankconsulting.ca  Website: www.thinktankconsulting.ca

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Jamal Moustafaev

Jamal Moustafaev, MBA, PMP – president and founder of Thinktank Consulting, is an internationally acclaimed expert and speaker in the areas of project/portfolio management, scope definition, process improvement and corporate training. Jamal Moustafaev has done work for private-sector companies and government organizations in Canada, US, Asia, Europe and Middle East.  

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