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.

 

Article - 10 Steps To A Successful Project Management Implementation

Introduction

Nowadays many organizations are seriously overwhelmed with project portfolios that have dramatically grown in size, sophistication and the number of resources involved. Just to illustrate this point, recently a CEO of a large financial institution mentioned in a private conversation with me, “It seems only yesterday we had a couple of fifty-thousand dollar projects in our portfolio and today we have ten ongoing endeavors ranging in size from $5 to $20 million. We were not prepared for this".

How should these organizations adjust their business models? Many companies are attempting deployments of their own project management frameworks to address the issues above. This article is aimed to provide senior executives of such organizations with the key lessons learned by the author stemming from numerous previous projects of similar nature.

Implementing Project Management

How Are We Doing?

Before we venture into the discussion of the finer points of project management implementation, let us analyze the current situation in the industry and assess our ability to handle projects.

According to researchers 19% of the project undertaken in 2008 were complete failures (i.e. cancelled because of significant cost overruns or being late). Forty six percent represented troubled projects (i.e. significantly over budget and/or late but completed nonetheless). And only 35% of projects undertaken were delivered on time and on budget (give or take a couple of percent here and there).

I don't think anyone would argue that these figures demonstrate that we are a long way from perfection when it comes to selecting, planning and executing our projects.

The Key Steps

Here are some of the lessons learned derived from several successful implementations of project management frameworks performed by Thinktank Consulting at various organizations in Canada, US, Asia and Middle East.

Lesson # 1: Customize Methodology - Never try to impose an "off-the-shelf" project management methodology onto any organization. Instead:

Article - Implementing Project Management at a Functional Organization

The Phone Call

About six months ago I was contacted by a senior manager of a large company who proceeded to tell me: "Listen, we know that you have a project management course and we are interested in it … But would you be able to come in and just assess what it is that we are doing wrong with projects and maybe customize your course according to the findings?" Obviously I agreed to get together with him and we arranged for a meeting.

Study Background

It turned out that his company was in the real estate development industry with strong ties to federal, provincial and municipal governments.

The organization had recently been created through a merger of several other smaller firms. Consequently, the company has experienced a significant growth in the number and size of their projects (the largest ones hovering at around $500 million). At the time, a typical company project portfolio consisted of approximately fifty ongoing projects, twenty of which were "cross-departmental" (i.e. required the involvement of five to ten or more different departments).

As a result of the above-mentioned events the company started experiencing problems in the areas of resource planning, resource allocation and project management. For example, while the employees of the company were complaining that they were too busy to fulfill all of their project and functional duties, the senior management was concerned that a lot of projects were late and the quality of final product was subpar. Furthermore, there were certain issues with proper planning of the projects, adequate project control and performance reporting. Many of the company's flagship megaprojects were over budget by almost 50% and some of them were close to a year late.

The bottom line expressed by one of the executives was:

"There is something horribly wrong with our projects . . . we are not entirely sure what it is and where to start since there seem to be too many problems."

Study Methodology

I suggested that we start by interviewing the cross-section of organization's employees starting all the way at the top of the company (i.e. C-level executives) down to department heads, project specialists (the company did not have any designated project managers) and even some outsiders, including customers and suppliers.

Training - Project Portfolio Management Masterclass

Course Overview

Why do companies like Apple, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson manage to deliver successful products to the markets year after year? And why do the majority of other organizations can’t replicate their success no matter how hard they try? This workshop is dedicated to the complicated and somewhat enigmatic topic of delivering successful products and services to the marketplace by selecting the best projects for implementation, proper assessment of the company’s throughput capacity and having a good grasp on project management.

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.

Who Should Attend?

Senior executives, project management and marketing professionals including:

  • CEOs, COOs, CTOs, CIOs etc.
  • Vice-presidents
  • Project and program managers
  • Functional department directors and managers
  • Sales and Marketing people
  • Account executives
  • Directors of PMO
  • Directors of Project Management,
  • Portfolio Managers, etc.

Course Outline

  • Introduction to Project Portfolio Management
  • Maximizing Portfolio Value
  • Balancing the Project Mix
  • Linking Portfolio to Strategy
  • Implementing Project Portfolio Management

To download a full course brochure, please click here.

 

Training - Project Management Masterclass

Course Overview

This course is about skills, tools, techniques and economic principles that transcend various company structures, environments and project management philosophies. It is about essential “hands-on” tools and techniques needed by contemporary project managers. The focus of this workshop is on the practitioner's rather than the academic view of project management including tricks, tips, soft skills and “guerilla warfare” tactics and the economics of project management in particular and strategic business decision-making in general.

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.

Podcast - "AEC Business" interview with Jamal Moustafaev

Yet another interview I gave to the AEC Business in 2013

 

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 @ www.thinktankconsulting.ca

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.

Podcast - "Project Management Podcast" interview with Jamal Moustafaev

PM Podcast Interview

There is an old PM saying that goes like this: Projects don’t fail at the end... they fail at the beginning. But when exactly is “the beginning”? Is it scope definition? The kick off meeting? The creation of the charter? For me it is even earlier than that. Listen to the interview I gave to my friend Cornelius Fichtner on his website "PM Podcast".

Interview Transcript

Female voice: The Project Management Podcast’s feature Interview: Today with Jamal Moustafaev, author, speaker and portfolio management expert.

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello Jamal, welcome back to The Project Management Podcast™.

Jamal Moustafaev: Hi, Cornelius! How are you doing?

Cornelius Fichtner: Very well, thank you! So we want to talk about your book: “Delivering Exceptional Project Results – A Practical Guide to Project Selection, Scoping, Estimation and Management.” But before we even go to that, what do you love about portfolio management? What made you write the book?

Jamal Moustafaev: Well, I don’t know if this is the love thing. But I can share some of the information that I share on the pages right at the beginning pages of my book, some statistical data that was gathered by researchers and scientists in the field of project and portfolio management. With your permission, I’ll share it with you and your listeners.

Article - What the Heck is Project Portfolio Management?

The Steppe Winds and the "Virgin Lands"

In 1953 after the death of a dictator Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, the new Soviet leader became aware of the serious issues in the country's agricultural sector. Because of the prolonged heavy investments in the industrial and military growth, coupled with a devastating war, the production of wheat, meat and dairy in Soviet Union had plummeted to historic levels. Russia, a traditional exporter of grain, was forced to buy it abroad.

whattheheck_1Khrushchev, always an energetic and vigorous party leader, came up with what appeared to be a very creative solution to the grain shortage problem. He proposed to open up millions of acres of "virgin" land in the steppes of Kazakhstan north and east of the Aral Sea.

The overall aim of the "Virgin Lands Project" was to produce 20 million tons of grain by 1956. The project has begun with an army of 300,000 volunteers travelling by special trains to Northern Kazakhstan and Southern Siberia and erecting hundreds of tent cities. Another group of several hundred thousand students, soldiers and agricultural professionals joined them on a temporary basis until the first year's harvest. In addition, 50,000 tractors and more than 6,000 trucks were moved to the area to assist the "project team" in preparing and ploughing the vast areas of land. As a result of these preparations in the first year of the programme, 190,000 km² were ploughed; in 1955, an extra 140,000 km² were ploughed.

The 1956 was a year of great success for the "Virgin Lands"; the original target of 20 million tons of wheat was more than tripled. Mr. Khrushchev and the rest of the country rejoiced. The original idea of investing billions of roubles into the steppes of Kazakhstan looked like a stroke of genius. Thick books were written and large canvases were painted describing the heroic efforts of the people. The project was a great success.

Article - Defining the Detailed Scope: How and Where Do You Find Requirements?

Roses, Stars and the Sun

Medieval England. War of the Roses. On April 13th, 1471 Yorkist troops, under the command of the king, Edward IV, and Lancastrian forces led by Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick and John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford met near the town of Barnet some twelve miles North of London. At four o'clock in the morning on April 14th the soldiers of both armies were awakened and started preparing for the decisive battle. Warwick's army heavily outnumbered Edward's, although sources differ on exact numbers. However, according to some historians, Lancastrian strength ranged from 10,000 to 30,000 men, with 7,000 to 15,000 on the Yorkist side.

warofroses1The major problem that both armies had to deal with was a heavy fog that covered the entire battlefield thus making any kind of monitoring or communications with their units somewhat problematic.

Medieval battles have never been known for their orderliness and organization; however because of the heavy fog, the confusion that existed on the field on that warofroses2particular day dwarfed anything that was seen in military campaigns before and since that memorable day. In this mayhem at one point of time John de Vere's forces ended up behind their allies, a part of Lancastrian force led by Warwick's younger brother John Neville. Neville's regiments for reasons to be explained a bit later mistook their comrades-in-arms for enemies - Edward's reserve forces - and unleashed a volley of arrows on them. De Vere, in his turn quite logically assumed treachery and attacked Neville's troops ... The cries of treason quickly spread throughout the entire battlefield and as the fog started to dissipate, Edward saw the Lancastrian centre in disarray and sent in his reserves, hastening its collapse. One by one, first John Neville, then de Vere and finally Warwick were killed by Yorkists.

Some historians claim that as many as 6,500 Lancastrians perished in that engagement - a mind-boggling number of casualties by the 15th century standards. As for Edward, he retained his crown and ruled England for the next twelve years.

Article - How And Why Do We Write Project Charters?

NOTE: See also the “Downloads” section of the website for the Project Plan template.

Initiation "Barbarossa"

Late in 1940 the Soviet government was starting to get concerned that the country was in danger of German invasion despite the signing of the peace treaty with the Nazis in 1939. The suspicions were initially aroused because Hitler began to accumulate a significant number of motorized, infantry and tank divisions in the vicinity of the Soviet-German border. However German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop continued to insist that those troops were simply preparing for the Operation Sealion - the invasion of England.

wewriteproject1Joseph Stalin, the dictatorial leader of the Soviet Union, who did not exactly have a reputation as an overly trusting individual, needed reliable information regarding German plans and intentions. He delegated this task to Fillip Golikov, the head of powerful and highly secretive GRU, the Chief Intelligence Directorate (Military Intelligence).

Golikov concluded that he required some certain indicators that would tip him off about the impending invasion. As a result, all GRU operatives in Europe were ordered to keep a watchful eye on the ... sheep farming industry. The head of GRU ordered his staff to create a file on every large sheep breeder and on every market where sheep were sold. From that point on he would receive a daily report with prices of sheepskins and mutton from all major European livestock breeding centers.

Furthermore, Soviet spies started paying a lot of attention to ... oiled rags discarded by wewriteproject2German soldiers after cleaning of their weapons. These rags were gathered all over Europe (wherever German troops were stationed) and dispatched to Moscow via diplomatic channels. Upon arrival in Moscow the rags were transferred to the leading research centers for analysis.