This Guest paper was submitted for publication and is copyright to E. Riis & P. Eskerod, © 2009
published February 2010

Introduction | Method | Case Description and Findings
Perceived Value | Discussion | Sustaining Value

Case Description and Findings

The case study was carried out in the IT department of the lead company in a Danish industrial group. The group develops and manufactures mechanical and electronic products. With 53 factories in 21 countries and about 22,000 people worldwide (2008) it is one of the largest industrial concerns in Denmark. Over the past years, annual net sales have been in the range of 2.6 billion.

Prior to 1996, the IT department had been in charge of a single software platform that supported all corporate activities. New activities needed to be aligned with the characteristics of the central platform, and very many people in the company needed to agree before any change would be accepted. As the company was facing an increasingly dynamic business environment, the centralistic arrangement with its heavy organizational demands was found to be less and less practical.

Thus, it was decided to decentralize the IT activities. In the past, the IT department had carried out one or two large projects per year at one central site. Now it had to show that it was capable of implementing many projects at many different locations. Among other things, this required the ability of applying full project management instead of just technical project management.

As a consequence, the IT department had to turn itself from a technical support unit into an information solution provider. In response to these challenges, an Enterprise Program Management Team was established who, in 1997, adopted the model shown in Figure 1. This model was known as the EPMT model and the entire IT department trained in its use. The model was made mandatory if a given project was of strategic importance or if it exceeded a certain size, e.g. in the case of an IT project if it required more than 100 workdays. Such projects were called "EPMT projects".

Figure 1: The case company's model of project management
Figure 1: The case company's model of project management

Furthermore, the department decided to develop an IT strategy, endorsed by corporate management, that included a project function. Thus, the EPMT project function unit was established and a number of experienced project managers assigned to it. Today it is the organizational base for 15 full-time EPMT project managers and both the PM model and the project function are being continuously improved.

In each project, there is both an EPMT project manager and project manager of the client unit. Together they manage the full project cycle from project preparation to a follow-up stage that begins three months after finishing implementation. Management is mainly provided for interaction with the customers; clarification of needs of their respective business units; ensuring that the business processes are optimized; and that project outcomes are manageable for the business unit. During follow-up, the IT department and the client evaluate project results jointly before they are handed over to the client unit for operation.

To become an EPMT project manager, the person in question must have participated in an in-house project management training that is equivalent to the requirements of IPMA level D. When they are assigned to the project management function, project managers are expected to participate in another internal project management training equivalent to the requirements for IPMA level C. Project management training includes, in particular, instructions on the use of the PM model. Terminology and management concepts are the same for all training efforts.

For each project manager in the IT department, a mandatory personal leadership program is being conducted with coaching by a psychologist. The training modules conclude with an in-company exam. Furthermore, a tutoring activity takes place in which each project manager is being evaluated and given feedback by his/her tutor. However, external certification is not being offered. Project managers meet every second week to share their experiences and discuss lessons learned. In addition, an annual experience-sharing conference for all project managers is held.

Alignment with the PM model is required for all EPMT projects while optional for all other projects. Observations showed that alignment with the procedures, methods and tools of the PM model is much higher for EPMT projects than for the rest. The challenge seems to be to draw more attention to the not-EPMT projects - both management attention and conscious project management applied - in order to create value from these projects.

The main features of the PM model of the case company are shown in Figure 2.

PM Model implementation started year

1997

Project model in use prior to PM model

Yes

Degree of customization (1-5 scale, 5 is high)

4

Degree of integration with other business systems (1-5 scale, 5 is high)

1

Degree of integration with internal project models (1-5 scale, 5 is high)

n/a

PM model covers

Project life cycle + follow-up phase

Project categories covered by the PM model

>100 man days and/or strategic attention

Based on model

SAP (www.sap.com)

Number of procedures - i.e. written methods and tools

21

Number of templates

11

Number of mandatory documents

5

Contains governance structure

Yes

Implementation approach -participation by internal project managers (1-5 scale, 5 is high)

3

Supportive efforts on top of the PM models

Leadership development of project managers, biweekly exchange of experience, annual PM workshop

Figure 2: PM Model Characteristics
Method  Method

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