Monday, 19 February 2018 07:49

Less Than 2% at CMMI Level 3 Maturity - Why?

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SEI has been a long standing factor in developing and promoting the CMMI.

The five level maturity model has received a lot of attention and fan fare too. It has been heralded as the de facto standard of a successful project management culture beginning with CMM in 1987. Despite all of that attention published research found that less than 2% of the organizations surveyed have reached Maturity Level 3 or beyond. This could be a reason why project failure rates have remained at unacceptable levels but maybe there is more to the story.

There is and the answer can be found in what has been called Hybrid Project Management. At best it has been flying below the radar. I contend that there is an underlying process. In this article I will try to shed some light on this undiscovered practice.

HYBRID PROJECT MANAGEMENT LIFE CYCLE

The project landscape is shown in Figure 1. The complex project quadrants are the focus of this article. The work of Mark Mulally [Mulally, 2017] concluded that fewer than 2% of organizations practice project management at CMMI Maturity Level 3. Don't you wonder what the other 98% are doing? I'm going to attempt to describe that at a robust level.

wysocki 02202018aFigure 1: The Project Landscape

The Hybrid PMLC Model applies to the projects that fall in the complex project quadrants. Testimonial worldwide data suggests that over 80 % of all projects fall in the 3 quadrants that define the complex project landscape. Many of these projects do not fit existing PMLC Models. The project managers know this and attempt to adapt or design project management approaches that do fit the specific situations and conditions of the project. These customized approaches are the Hybrid PMLC Models. You won't find them in the literature because they are part of organizational business processes. Few will be documented and if they are they will probably be proprietary.

DEFINITION: Hybrid Project Management

Hybrid Project Management is a customized project management approach based on:

  • the physical and behavioral characteristics of the project
  • the organizational culture and environment of the project
  • the dynamic conditions of the supply and demand markets

to custom design a project management approach using a vetted portfolio of tools, templates and processes.

This is intentionally phrased to be a robust statement of what constitutes Hybrid Project Management.


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A Robust Hybrid Project Management Life Cycle Model

Figure 2 is a robust depiction of the Hybrid Project Management Life Cycle (PMLC) Model. I'm assuming that to be valid every Hybrid Model must be defined by these phases.

wysocki 02202018bFigure 2: A Conceptual Hybrid Project Management Model

Hybrid Project Management Models are more useful than Agile or Extreme Models in those situations where very little is known about the solution or the specifics of the goal. Keep in mind that solution discovery is still the focus of these Hybrid Models. Each iteration in a Hybrid Model must address not only task completion for newly defined functions and features, but also further solution definition through function and feature discovery.

Ideation Phase

The Ideation Phase of the Hybrid PMLC Model is a high-level activity because not much is known about the solution. For the Hybrid PMLC Model, the Ideation activities merely set the boundaries and the high-level parameters that will be the foundation on which you proceed to learn and discover. The Ideation Phase answers the following questions:

  1. What business situation is being addressed by this project?
  2. What does the business need to do?
  3. What are you proposing to do?
  4. How will you do it?
  5. How will you know you did it?

Set-up Phase

At this point in the Hybrid PMLC Model planning is done in general for the entire project and in detail for the first or next iteration. That planning is based on:

  • any changes to the project or its performance
  • the current environment in which the project is being conducted
  • competitor changes, emerging technologies, new products/services, shifts in demand

High-level planning might be part of the Ideation Phase in response to Question #4. Based on the known functionality and features that will be built in the coming cycle, a detailed plan is developed. This plan utilizes all of the vetted tools, templates, and processes defined by the organization.

Execution Phase

The Execution Phase will often include a Launch Step to establish team operating rules, the decision-making process, conflict management, team meetings, and a problem-solving approach.

During project execution there will be some oversight monitoring and controlling functions pertaining to the current iteration. A cumulative history of project performance metrics should also be maintained. These metrics should inform the project team about the rate at which convergence to an acceptable solution is occurring. Frequency of changes, severity of change, and similar metrics can also help. As part of that control function, the team collects whatever learning and discovery took place during the Iteration and records it. All change requests are also retained for later processing.

At the close of the project lessons learned, validation of success criteria, installation of deliverables and a post-project audit will often be included.

AN EXAMPLE HYBRID PMLC MODEL

There is only one Hybrid Model in the public domain at this time [Wysocki, 2014]. It is the Effective Complex Project Management (ECPM) Framework. It is a 12 step model as shown in Figure 3. The ECPM Framework was built to be applicable to any type of project. For that reason, ECPM thrives on learning, discovery, and change. In time, and with enough cycles, the project manager expects that an acceptable solution will emerge.

wysocki 02202018cFigure 3: The 12 steps of the ECPM Framework

The Set-Up Phase of the ECPM Framework is a Unique Value Proposition (UVP) for the Hybrid Model. It is the only commercial product that expects changes to the project management approach during project execution. The less that is known about the solution, the more risk, uncertainty, and complexity will be present and the more likely a Hybrid PMLC Model will be used. To remove the uncertainty associated with these projects, the solution has to be discovered. That will happen through a continuous change process from cycle to cycle. That change process is designed to create convergence to a complete solution.

Compared to the Agile PMLC Model, the Hybrid PMLC Model requires more involvement from the client. Once you have decided that an Hybrid PMLC Model is a best fit for your project, meaningful client involvement is necessary. Without their meaningful involvement, the Hybrid PMLC Model project has little chance of success. To be meaningful, the client must be fully involved in the decisions to go forward with the project and in what direction. I have had projects where the client was the primary decision maker, and I was there to keep the project pointed in the right direction. Some clients have the confidence and leadership skills to assume this role; others do not, and the more traditional role of the project manager is employed.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

The success of Hybrid PMLC Models is leveraged by expecting and accommodating frequent change. Change is the result of learning and discovery by the team and, most importantly, by the client. Because change will have a dramatic impact on the project, only a minimalist approach to planning is employed. Planning is actually done just in time and only for the next cycle. No effort is wasted on planning the future. The future is unknown, and any effort at planning that future will be viewed as non-value-added work. That is not consistent with the notion of “lean.”

Compared to the Agile PMLC Model, the Hybrid PMLC Model requires more involvement from the client. As you will learn in the discussion of specific Hybrid PMLC Models, clients will have more of a directive role in the project than they do in the Linear, Incremental, and even Agile PMLC Models. Once you have decided that an Hybrid PMLC Model is a best fit for your project, meaningful client involvement is necessary. Without their meaningful involvement, the Hybrid PMLC Model project has little chance of success. To be meaningful, the client must be fully involved in the decisions to go forward with the project and in what direction. I have had projects where the client was the primary decision maker, and I was there to keep the project pointed in the right direction. Some clients have the confidence and leadership skills to assume this role; others do not, and the more traditional role of the project manager is employed.

The success of Hybrid PMLC Models is leveraged by expecting and accommodating frequent change. Change is the result of learning and discovery by the team and, most importantly, by the client. Because change will have a dramatic impact on the project, only a minimalist approach to planning is employed. Planning is actually done just in time and only for the next cycle. No effort is wasted on planning the future. The future is unknown, and any effort at planning that future will be viewed as non-value-added work. That is not consistent with the notion of “lean.”.

ENDNOTES
[Wysocki, 2014] Wysocki, Robert K. Effective Complex Project Management: An Adaptive Agile Framework for Delivering Business Value. J. Ross Publishing (2014).

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Robert Wysocki

outsidetheboxRobert K. Wysocki, Ph.D. President EII Publications, LLC, has over 50-years experience as a project management consultant and trainer, author of 25 books on PM and BA. His materials are used in over 450 colleges and universities worldwide. His interests include Hybrid Project Management, Digital Transformations and customized textbooks. His website is eiipubs.com and he can be reached at rkw@eiicorp.com.

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