This case study was submitted for
publication by Email 6/1/09.
It is copyright to Jamal Moustafaev, © 2009.
Published here August 2009.
The following steps were undertaken as a result of the above-mentioned recommendations:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
There were several lessons that we learned during the implementation of this initiative. Among them were:
- Never try to impose an "off-the-shelf" project management methodology onto a functional (traditional) organization. Instead:
Debrief key stakeholders at every milestone. Presentation software like PowerPoint with charts, graphs and tables is your best friend!
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!
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
And finally, keep in mind that communications 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.
- 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 voices by the people working for the organization