Case Study - Global Imaging Company


Thinktank Consulting was requested to provide its expertise on a flagship strategic project initiated y a global digital imaging corporation. The project was expected to involve basically every area of the business and focused on building a web-based front-end system that would allow business customers search, select and order various products offered by the company. The new system was also required to have a real-time interaction with a complicated ERP system that has just been deployed in North American headquarters.


Although the company had some basic project management methodology in place, the level of sophistication was insufficient for the upcoming project. Documentation was available, however different project teams used different templates. There were no key documents identified by the IT department. In general following project management was more voluntary rather than obligatory. For example, sign-offs on key documents were very frequently obtained after the development process has already started thus causing misunderstandings and confusion. In addition there were no clear guidelines on the relationship between IT and Business sides. Thinktank was notified that the senior management was considering using this project as a pilot for gauging and planning all future project management and business analysis practices.


Quality of the product was of the first priority in this project. In order for the system to be accepted and used by the customers and all the internal departments involved it had to be attractive, user-friendly and efficient. It also had to integrate seamlessly with the existing ERP system.

Time factor was also important; however the senior management has indicated that they were willing to be somewhat flexible in order to obtain superior quality. The budget part was a bit more complicated: the executives were prepared to be generous with resources but did not want to invest in any kind of business analysis or project management software packages.

Case Study - Biotechnology Start-Up


In 2001 we were contacted by a small bioinformatics company started by group of biotechnology scientists and computer programmers. The company was in the process of developing a new bioinformatics platform for the biotechnology sector. The team was expected to develop a working prototype of the platform as soon as possible in order to test it at several locations including Centre for Disease Control, UBC Medical School and Canada Genome Centre. The next logical step was to present their platform and independent reviews to the venture capital companies.


The main challenge facing the team was that the biotechnology experts had very differing ideas on how the system should work and what it should do. Developers on the other hand, did not have any background in cutting-edge biotechnology science and had a very difficult time understanding the requirements. The process that started with great fanfare and enthusiasm has stalled after about one month.


As was mentioned before time was of an issue. The window of opportunity was defined to be 6 to 12 months. Furthermore, due to tight financial situation the company could not afford to invest in additional resources or provide developers with biotechnology training. Quality and the scope of the product were somewhat less of an issue since the company was expected to produce a working prototype with relatively few functions. However the prototype was expected to perform exceptionally well in order to gain acceptance and positive reviews of independent experts.


One of the first issues that became obvious to Thinktank Consulting was the fact that the company had a very weak understanding of the system development life cycle (SDLC) process. And while full-scale implementation of project management and business analysis methodologies would have definitely benefited the company, lack of time and budget warranted a simpler and leaner approach.

ThinkTank Consulting developed a customized course covering key areas of Requirements Gathering, Vision and Scope and Software Requirements Specifications documentation and their relationship to the basic Project Plan.

Case Study - Large European Telecom


Close to the very end of the last year Thinktank Consulting has completed a very exciting project that has been two years in the making. We have successfully finished a very large project and portfolio management implementation initiative at one of the leading European telecom providers.

The company has experienced a significant growth in the number and size of their projects. Currently a typical project portfolio at the organization consists of approximately fifty ongoing large endeavours. As a result of the above-mentioned developments the company started experiencing problems in the areas of resource planning, allocation and management. Furthermore, there are certain issues with proper planning of the projects, adequate project control and performance reporting.

Company management has contacted Thinktank Consulting Inc. to assist them with an independent, unbiased assessment of the situation and provide its expertise in addressing their problems.

Problems and Challenges

Project Portfolio Management

  • Lack of strategic planning/ portfolio management/ project prioritization
  • Lack of strategic resource allocation

Project Management

  • Lack of proper project planning
  • Lack of unified project management methodology
  • Lack of qualified (trained) and dedicated (full time) project managers
  • Poor Interdepartmental communications on projects
  • Lack of proper requirements elicitation, documentation and management
  • Lack of proper and/or fair estimation

Freestyle Comments from Participants

Portfolio Management/Resourcing

Case Study - North American Port Authority


I was once introduced to a PMO Director of a large North American port authority by a colleague of mine at one of the project management conferences. We chatted for a while, when he told me that his organization had been experiencing serious problems with their current projects and would appreciate my assistance in the matter.

We arranged for a meeting with the PMO Director, the CEO, COO and the CFO of the port authority where we agreed to proceed with an improvement program designed to address their problems.

Problems and Challenges

Interviews with various employees of the organization revealed the following problems (percentage of people who mentioned the issue are shown in brackets):

  • Lack of communications between the departments on larger interdepartmental projects (97%)
  • Lack of uniformity in project management approach across the departments (93%)
  • Lack of accountability for cost & time overruns and poor quality (80%)
  • Lack of feasibility analysis in project selection (77%)
  • Projects are not prioritized properly (75%)
  • Issues with underestimation (68%)
  • Projects are frequently over the budget or late (either underestimated or due to lack of skills) (64%)

Some comments from the participants:

Case Study - North American University


A president of one of the North American universities e-mailed me to chat about the issues they were having and see if a potential solution can be found for them. The university was located in one of the smaller towns near US-Canada border and had approximately 15,000 on campus students.

The university management has undertaken a significant expansion of their services including a massive distance education portal, as well as opening of the Law and Medical faculties. The president also mentioned that one of the most important goals of the university was to attract more Canadian, American and international students to their university as the competition was getting very stiff due to their proximity to the border and a number of both American and Canadian schools located nearby.

Problems and Challenges

Among the issues mentioned by the president and later confirmed by all other executives of the university were:

  • We are experiencing stiff competition from Canadian and US universities. We need innovative and effective projects to fight this battle. How do we identify such opportunities?
  • Value of our projects is low. We have no way of measuring, but the proverbial “gut feel” tells us that we are not getting our money’s worth. Is there a way to remedy this situation?
  • We have too many projects in our pipeline since we say “yes” to every initiative. How do we cut unattractive ideas?
  • Our resource pool is fixed, but the number of projects is growing and they are getting more complex. How do we prioritize them and address the resourcing constraint?


As always there were several external and internal constraints limiting our ability to find quick nd efficient solutions to the organization’s problems:

Case Study - Telecommunications Product Company


Thinktank Consulting was contacted by a medium-size European software company producing various value-added services for the telecommunications industry. The organization has experienced a very fast growth in terms of revenues, full-time employees and the portfolio of services it offered.

The executives felt that now was the time to venture into the non-telecom domain by providing professional IT services to other organizations and by developing their own mobile apps business line.

Problems and Challenges

The senior management of the company had several concerns about the future development of the organizational goals. They included:

  • Our projects are getting bigger, especially the professional services ones. Do we have the in-house skills and capabilities to handle them?
  • We started experiencing certain problems with our projects already. They include poor quality of product, need for rework and missed deadlines. What are the root causes of these problems?
  • We are entering two new business domains with very steep learning curves. How do we balance our best resources without damaging the existing business lines?
  • We seem to have too many project ideas. How do we handle the resource allocation?
  • We need more project managers and business analysts, but they are not readily available in our market. What options do we have?


As the company employees have been already heavily involved in multiple projects already, the time factor had to be considered as we did not have the luxury to “remove” the resources from their projects for a prolonged period of time.


Thinktank Consulting has identified three problem areas for the company. They included:

  • Lack of project management capabilities
  • Lack of requirements management (aka business analysis in the IT and software development world) capabilities
  • Absence of project proposal prioritization and strategic resource allocation (project portfolio management)

The following steps were undertaken:

News - iCompetences interviews Jamal Moustafaev

Interview with PPM2012 speaker: Jamal Moustafaev, MBA, PMP, Author of the book – Delivering Exceptional Project Results

We are pleased to announce that PPM2012 speaker: Jamal Moustafaev, MBA, PMP, Author of the book ‘Delivering Exceptional Project Results’, has given an exclusive interview with iCompetences in the run up to his speaking session at the Strategic Program & Portfolio Management International Seminar.


Farid Yandouz, iCompetences: Today we are talking to Jamal Moustafaev, MBA and PMP from Vancouver, Canada. Jamal is an internationally acclaimed expert and speaker in the areas of project/portfolio management and an author of the book titled “Delivering Exceptional Project Results: A Practical Guide to Project Selection, Scoping, Estimation and Management”.  Jamal, thank you very much for agreeing to chat with me today.

Jamal Moustafaev: It is my pleasure, Farid. Thank you for the invitation.

Farid Yandouz, iCompetences: So, Jamal, let us start at the very beginning: what is project portfolio management?

Jamal Moustafaev: My favourite “textbook” definition of project portfolio management is:

The science and the art of selecting the best  (i.e. optimal) project mix for the organization subject to known internal and external constraints.

In other words, as a leader of my organization how do I ensure that I deliver the best possible mix of products or services to my customers while respecting my human and other resource constraints?

Farid Yandouz, iCompetences: Why is project portfolio management becoming so popular lately?

Jamal Moustafaev: It has been recently estimated that approximately 40% of our project investments fail to deliver their intended results partially because of our poor delivery and partially because we end up selecting the wrong projects for implementation. To put this in perspective, that is more than $5.2 trillion wasted worldwide. That is trillion with a “t”!

News - Jamal Moustafaev is designated as a project and portfolio management expert by the British Columbia Technology Industry Association

We are very proud to announce that Jamal Moustafaev, the president and CEO of Thinktank Consulting as been designated as a project and portfolio management subject matter expert by the British Columbia Technology Industry Association.


About the Author

Jamal Moustafaev, MBA, PMP – president and founder of Thinktank Consulting is an internationally acclaimed expert and speaker in the areas of project/portfolio management, scope definition, process improvement and corporate training. Jamal Moustafaev has done work for private-sector companies and government organizations in Canada, US, Asia, Europe and Middle East.  Read Jamal’s Blog @

Jamal is an author of two very popular books: Delivering Exceptional Project Results: A Practical Guide to Project Selection, Scoping, Estimation and Management and Project Scope Management: A Practical Guide to Requirements for Engineering, Product, Construction, IT and Enterprise Projects.


Training - Project Scope Management: A Practical Guide to Requirements Elicitation, Analysis, Documentation, Validation and Management For All Types of Projects

Course Overview

Business requirements elicitation (i.e. the initial phase of product scope definition) is underdeveloped in today’s project management science with the exception of IT and software development sectors, where scope definition (aka business analysis) is although relatively advanced, but excluded from the project manager’s domain of responsibilities.

As a result, most industries have a very prominent knowledge gap in project scope planning. A gap that starts some time after the Project Charter has been completed and approved and ends somewhere around the point when the work commences based on the detailed blueprints, technical drawings and bills of materials.

And yet, scope definition remains the key ingredient in the success of any project. After all, as one of my clients used to say, “If one does not understand completely what he or she is going to build, what is the point of engaging in scheduling or budgeting?”

This workshop is dedicated to the requirements elicitation, analysis, documentation and planning on the engineering, product, IT, software development and enterprise projects.

Why You Should Attend?

Recent studies indicate that only 32% of our projects can be considered successful, while 44% are challenged (i.e. grossly over the budget and/or late) and 24% are outright failures (i.e. cancelled by the customers before they are even completed). Further research shows that the lion’s share of this lack of success can be attributed to poor requirements elicitation, insufficient planning and inadequate project control.

This course will demonstrate to the participants how to perform these tasks properly and efficiently by teaching them skills, tools, techniques and economic principles that transcend various company structures, environments and project management philosophies.

Benefits of the Course

Every course participant is expected to understand how to improve the quality of the products delivered on their projects, decrease project durations and budgets and improve both internal and external stakeholder satisfaction levels by learning the following techniques:

Video - Jamal Moustafaev - How To Deliver Exceptional Project Results? presentation at BCTIA

Yet another one of my project portfolio management presentations. This time at the British Columbia Technology Industry Association.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Executive Summary

  • The “Virgin Lands” fiasco
  • Some tough questions from today’s executives
  • Do companies need help?
    • Some industry statistics
  • How to deliver good projects?
    • The “typewriter example”
    • The “final exam gone very wrong example”
    • The “Caribbean house example”
  • Detailed view of project and portfolio management
  • What do companies need to deliver exceptional project results?
  • Exercises

Download the PDF version of the presentation here.