Published here November, 2006. 

Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked | The Books Premise
Other Things We Liked | Research-Based Data | Case Studies | Downside | Summary

Case Studies

The book contains six case studies. Since each is dealt with in some detail, these alone make the book valuable for study purposes. However, each tended to leave us with a different impression. Here are very brief outlines of each.

Change is Complicated Enough[20]
This is a good case study describing how the role of the sponsor is crucial to the success of transformation programs, i.e. to organizational change. It describes how the Abbey National plc, one of the largest banks in the UK had a mixed record of project delivery. High profile projects such as significant acquisitions were successful but delivery of lower-profile initiatives was less consistent. The high-profile successes occurred when the whole organization was mobilized behind a single goal. However, there was no internal culture of project management, the title of "project manager" appeared to be widely misused, and project management was not a serious career option within the organization. Worse still, there was no tracking of outcomes, and no post-delivery examination of whether the benefits envisaged had actually been delivered.[21] The narrative describes the difficulties encountered and the results achieved. As the authors observe:

"In conclusion, it is worth noting that none of what was achieved would have happened without strong sponsorship at the highest level."[22]

Building an Effective Project Team in a Challenging Organizational Culture[23]
This is another good case study that describes the complexities of achieving systemic and cultural transformation in a US city government. The case in point is a software project in a medium-sized municipality experiencing an array of common challenges of a cross-functional, enterprise-wide effort, including significant organizational and interpersonal team challenges. The narrative describes the lack of project management expertise in assigned project teams; understanding the group dynamics; how long-standing systemic issues were revealed by mapping project team dynamics to organizational dynamics; how the project team support system was addressed; and how project team dynamics were leveraged. According to the writer, by expanding the focus of project management beyond the delivery of a software system to delivery of a holistic solution addressing team and group dynamics, this project achieved a level of success far beyond original expectations. In other words, the entire organizational culture had to be addressed.

A Global PMO at Hewlett-Packard[24]
As most people know, Hewlett-Packard (HP) is a leading manufacturer of computers and peripherals. HP operates in more than 170 countries around the world and their challenge is to apply new thinking and ideas to create a wide range of new or improved products and personal and business offerings. This means managing an extensive portfolio of technology projects. This called for a global project management office (PMO) to reap consistent benefits and foster continuous improvement. This case study describes how this PMO was established at the San Francisco HQ to provide central management and mentorship for the HP Services organization. The study description includes a listing of the ways in which the PMO provides support to project managers and claims an improvement of 70% of projects on or under budget compared to an industry average of 50%.[25]

Realizing Value from the Implementation of SAP Project System Module for Drug Development Projects[26]
This study comes from one of the world's leading pharmaceutical research and development companies, Eli Lilly, out of Indianapolis, Indiana. It describes a transformation project that was completed around year 2000 and involved the creation of a new information infrastructure and concomitant organizational and cultural changes. It is a glowing report - perhaps too much so. Given the difficulties normally encountered with this type of organizational change project, to say nothing of customizing such software as the German SAP modular suite, it is difficult to imagine that this project proceeded without encountering serious risk event occurrences.

Ericsson and the Project Environment maturity Assessment[27]
Ericsson is a global manufacturer of telephone equipment headquartered in Sweden. This study describes how the company developed a means for assessing the delivery capability of each of its more than four hundred business units that are based all around the world and involved in projects, programs and portfolios. Terry's company, Human Systems Ltd., was directly involved in this case study and the narrative describes the challenge, the results, the players, the benefits gained and the lessons learned. As an example of the latter:

"The benchmarking model needs to be simple. The number of assessments is high, and the time spent on each assessment should not be more than half-a-day for the individuals who locally participate in an assessment session and not more than a couple of days for the assessors."[28]

That sounds like good advice to us.

Doing it right: Development of a state-of-the-art methodology[29]
This case study, the concluding chapter of the book, is also from Ericsson and describes its project management framework known as "PROPS". PROPS is a model for project management and management of projects that supports managers at all levels in a multi-project organization, a methodology that Ericsson has spend decades developing. Ericsson has used this project work form since 1988 for developing competitive products in all types of projects and in different Ericsson companies all over the world. According to the writer, projects are now the primary way of working at Ericsson and PROPS is the common methodology. However, PROPS is now a proprietary product marketed by Semcon Project Management, a Swedish company to whom Ericsson has granted the sole right to offer it to customers worldwide.[30] Consequently, the narrative is short on useful content and reads like promotional material.

Research-Based Data  Research-Based Data

20. By Tony Teague, Ibid, pp205-209
21. Ibid, p205
22. Ibid, p208
23. By Meg Charter, VP, Project Corps, Ibid, pp209-215
24. By Randall L. Englund & Ronald Kempf, Ibid, pp107-111
25. Ibid, p108. Additional information on this project can be found in Creating an Environment for Successful Projects: The Quest to Manage Project Management, 2nd ed. by Randall Englund and Robert Graham, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 2004. Also in Creating the Project Office: A Manager's Guide to Leading Organizational Change by Englund, Graham and Dinsmore, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 2003
26. By Martin D. Hynes III, The Right Projects Done Right!, pp97-107
27. By Inger Bergman, Ibid, pp111-117
28. Ibid, p116
29. Also by Inger Bergman, Ibid, pp275-280
30. You can find out more here: (site accessed 5/24/06)
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