Here are some of the principles developed in the course of several dozen successful implementations of project management frameworks performed by Thinktank Consulting at various organizations in Canada, US, Asia and Middle East.
Principle # 1: Customize Methodology - Never try to impose an "off-the-shelf" project management methodology onto any organization. Instead:
- Interview a cross-section of company employees and, if possible customers and suppliers, to obtain the real project-related issues.
- Use the "best practices" project management methodology to tailor the solutions proposed to the concerns voices by the people working for the organization
- Note: it is very likely that some of the issues voiced will not map directly to the domain of project management. For example, challenges like "most of our projects are of low value to the organization" or "we are constantly taking on way more projects than we are capable of handling" indicate issues with portfolio management (the science of project selection and strategic resource allocation) rather than with project management.
Principle # 2: Champion Simplicity - 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!
Principle # 3: Use Focus Groups - 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.
Principle # 4: What Is A Project? - 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".
Principle # 5: Educate Stakeholders - 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 and to spread the PM culture throughout your organization.
Principle # 6: Be Patient - 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.
Principle # 7: Assign Dedicated Project Managers - 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.
Principle # 8: Communicate - Debrief key stakeholders at every milestone. Presentation software like PowerPoint with charts, graphs and tables is your best friend! In general 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.
Principle # 9: Capture “Before” and “After” Data - 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.
Principle # 10 - Hire a Professional – As self-serving as it sounds, don’t assume this difficult endeavor can be undertaken by internal resources with little or no experience in such projects. Hiring an external knowledgeable and unbiased professional who is capable of interviewing the stakeholders, developing a customized project management methodology and training your employees is probably the most efficient approach to this project.
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