An updated version of a paper first submitted by Trade Press Services, February 2008
© Don J. Wessels.
Published here May 2008.

Introduction | What is Wrong With This Picture? | Project Prioritizing
The Project Ranking Tool | Resource Allocation | Where Has Execution Gone Wrong?
What is Missing in the Total Product Cycle? | Whatever Happened to the Business Case? 
Close the Loop

What is Missing in the Total Product Cycle?

A complete product cycle consists of three components: the project management cycle, the product cycle and organizational change management as shown in Figure 2.

Product Cycle




Figure 2: The overall corporate product cycle

Organizational change management is extremely important, but typically neglected. As organizations draw individual projects from the portfolio to turn them into reality, they are most concerned with what to build and how to manage that build. They seldom think about organizational change management - how exactly will the new product, service or system impact people?

Organizational change management needs to be an integral part of any corporate product cycle from the start, not just toward the end of project execution, for instance, when it appears that a particular end user community needs training or documentation. Currently, companies fail to engage people early enough in the project to alert them that a change is coming, how it is going to affect them, why it is important and how it relates to the organizational mission and vision. Instead, major changes come to people as a sudden surprise.

An equally damaging scenario occurs when in the middle of a project execution, a rumor mill starts, runs wild, and sabotages implementation. IT organizations, in particular, do a very poor job of organizational change management. If there is communication at all about the coming change, it is not open and honest. Speculation is rampant and there is no nurturing about what is occurring, why it is being done and how it is going to affect individuals' jobs. Even though mission, vision and strategy determine product cycle considerations at the highest level, the key to organizational change management lies at the project level. This corporate product cycle provides the overall framework and structure that determines execution at the project level.

Appropriate tailoring of this cycle is another component that is often neglected. Both the project management cycle and the product cycle must fit the size, risk and complexity of the project. More specifically, the project management processes of Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing must be tailored to modify the management control and documentation that is required for the project. This ensures that projects are neither overwhelmed with too much rigor nor given insufficient attention when they should be industrial strength. The project in turn must be tailored to fit the type of development activities, methods and documentation that is necessary for the creation of the product.

Note that reactive project management reacts to problems and issues and does a poor job at two levels. First, it undertakes a project only when there is a problem, and then it manages that project inadequately. Proactive project management, on the other hand, maintains a bird's-eye, strategic view of the organization. Following the old adage of "plan the work, work the plan," it selects the projects that align with the organization's mission and vision and intended benefits and then supports those projects with the amount of project management that is appropriate for their size, risk and complexity.

Where Has Execution Gone Wrong?  Where Has Execution Gone Wrong?

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