Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Management of Project Management

A significant gap in the current standardisation of project, program and portfolio management relates to the senior management functions necessary to effectively manage the projects and programs initiated by the organisation.

Project Management, as defined by PMI, ISO21500 and a range of other standards commences when the project is funded, and concludes on the delivery of the outputs the project was established to deliver.

Program Management focuses on the coordinated management of a number of projects to achieve benefits that would not be available if the projects were managed in isolation. Different types of program have been defined by GAPPS ranging from optimising annual budgets to maintain a capability (eg, the maintenance of a railway system) through to creating a major change in the way an organisation operates.

Processes for identifying the best projects and programs for an organisation to invest in through portfolio management and tracking benefits realisation are also well defined within the context of strategic management, but are generally not as well implemented by organisations.

Finally the overall governance of organisations and its key sub-set, project governance is recognised as essential for the long term wellbeing of the organisation.

Within this overall framework, the element not well defined, that is essential to achieving the optimum benefits from the ‘doing of projects and programs’, is the organisation’s ability to manage the management of its projects and programs.

At the overall organisational level, the management of project management includes developing and supporting the capabilities needed to provide executive oversight and leadership so that the organisation is able to undertake projects and programs effectively. This includes the organisations ability to develop and enhance its overall project management capabilities, develop project and program managers and project team members, implement appropriate methodologies, provide effective sponsorship, and achieve the benefits and value the projects and programs were set up to facilitate.

At the individual department level, the ability to manage multiple projects in an effective way is equally critical. Typically the role of a Project Director, multi-project management differs from program management in a number of key aspects:

  • There is limited correlation between the objectives of the various projects, eg a number of design and fabrication projects may each have a different external customer.
  • The function is relatively stable and permanent (programs close once their objectives are achieved).
  • The primary focus of this management function is resource optimisation, minimising conflicts and process clashes, and developing the project/program delivery capability of the department/facility.

A number of recognised roles such as the Project/Program Sponsor, project governance and PMOs contribute to the organisations ability to manage the management of projects and programs and develop effective multi-project management capabilities, what is missing is an overall framework that supports the ongoing development of these functions to facilitate the effective governance of projects, programs and portfolios.

Peter Morris and Joana Geraldi have recently published a paper focused on ‘Managing the Institutional Context for Projects’ (Project Management Journal, Vol.42, No.6 p20-32), this paper defines three levels of project management:

Level 1 – Technical ‘project management’; the processes defined in standards such as the PMBOK® Guide and ISO21500.

Level 2 – Strategic ‘management of projects’; the overall management of the project from concept to benefits realisation, starting with identifying and validating concepts, through portfolio selection to delivery and the creation of the intended value.

Level 3 – Institutional context; developing an institutional context for projects and programs to enable them to succeed and enhance their effectiveness. The focus is on creating an environment that encourages improved levels of success in all of the organisation’s projects and programs.

The theoretical framework described in Morris’ paper covers the same concepts (but from a different viewpoint) to the technical framework of organisational entities and roles defined in our White Paper, a PPP Taxonomy (and the linked White Papers focused on specific elements of the structure), see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1074_PPP_Taxonomy.pdf

What developing the PPP Taxonomy identified within our White Papers, and Morris highlights in his paper, is the critical need for organisations to develop an intrinsic capability to manage the overall management of projects and programs. Over the next few weeks I hope to complete two additional White Papers to start filling this gap:
The Management of Project Management – the institutional context.
Multi-project Management – the departmental context.

In the meantime, a PPP Taxonomy defines the overall project governance and control framework these two critically important elements fit within.

On reflection, many of the project and program failures identified in our earlier posts as generic ‘governance failures’ are likely to be shown to be directly caused by the absence of systems designed to ‘manage project management’, this is still a governance failure but now the root cause of some of these failures may be able to be specifically defined.

This is an emerging area of thinking, you are invited to download the White Papers and post any thoughts, comments or disagreements, as well as make use of the ideas to help improve your organisations. There’s a long way to go, at present there’s not even a clearly defined term for this aspect of project governance/management……

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No sensis® and no sensitivity

In October 2011 we were persuaded to switch our Australian Yellow Pages advertising from print to on-line media, based on a shift in sensis’ overall direction. The package and price offered was good.

The process of sensis staff creating the advertisement took several weeks rather than several days despite me supplying a complete set of text for the advertisement (but I was assured there would be no bills from senses until the work was done). Delays in completing the work and publishing the advertisement cut out all sales opportunities pre Christmas 2011.

Before the advertisement was live, we had received a bill for the work that at the time had not been done contrary to earlier promises. A written objection was lodged in early December. To date no action has been taken on this written complaint by senses apparently ‘the complaint is in the queue….’ But this has not stopped their credit department following up on monies that were billed for work not done – a potential breach of the Trade Practices Act.

Dozens of phone calls later, in mid January 2012 the situation remains:

  1. No one from senses has contacted me (apart from the credit people)
  2. The advertisement as created by senses is incorrect and inaccurate and has not been corrected despite numerous telephone calls
  3. I’m now being billed monthly for an advertisement that is wrong and does not reach our specific market – we are refusing to pay this bill as well
  4. No information has been provided on how to manage the advertisement and its on-line content
  5. Telstra/sensis management continue to hide behind call centre staff who have generally been more then helpful as individuals but are helpless when faced with internal bureaucracy and indifference

To add insult to injury, the on-line form for contacting sensis in writing has been defective since December 2011 and every telephone call takes over 30 minutes ‘on-hold’ before contact is made with the call centre staff, who listen to the complaint, log the call and escalate the problem again so that nothing happens.

My strong recommendation to any small/medium business operator is to do almost anything with your on-line marketing budget other than wasting your time with the incompetent systems created by sensis. You may be lucky to get things 100% right first time otherwise forget any notion of customer services – based on my experience, as far as sensis is concerned anything they do is good enough and you should be grateful, even if as a small project management training company, you get listed as a miner.

Maybe in 2 to 3 years time the glacial bureaucracy within sensis may have worked out how to implement on-line systems that are responsive to their customer’s needs, until then the cost of the time you will wast trying to deal with their processes will be 5 to 10 times the cost of any bill for the actual advertising.

Planning Engineers Organisation Re-Launched

The Planning Engineers Organisation (PEO) has re-launched under the sponsorship of Athena Project Services Ltd.

The PEO is focused on recognising and promoting expertise in planning, scheduling and project controls whilst also encouraging and facilitating the development of new entrants, whether old or young! As such, the PEO offers a membership scheme that provides enhanced levels of access and facilities with the PEO in return for advancement in the knowledge base, levels and length of experience and general standing within our industries.

The PEO is looking to promote expertise in planning, scheduling and project controls, and encourage participation from all levels of ability, including those that are associated with our discipline by way of providing support services, software and employment opportunities. Consequently, membership is open to all planners, schedulers and project controllers, or those associated with project time management, from across the world at the following grades:

  • Fellows: Restricted for those individuals with greater than 15 years experience in planning/scheduling or those, who in the opinion of the Organisation, have made a major significant contribution to the field of project time management. This grade of membership carries the designation FPEO.
  • Members: This grade is for full time planners/schedulers and project controllers who have at least 5 years project time management experience, and entitles the designation MPEO to be used.
  • Associate Members: For those planners/schedulers and project controllers with less than 5 years experience in project time management, or for those whose work or business is associated with products and/or services that are related to project time management. This entitles the designation APEO to be used.
  • Student Members: For those studying planning/scheduling and project controllers who would benefit from access to the Organisation’s information and website.

For more information and to join see: http://planningengineers.org

Charting for Effect

Charts are a great way to visualise complex information. The following chart may explain some aspects of my life…

However, care needs to be taken in the assembly of data in a chart The following data is Northern Hemisphere centric.

Correlation is not the same as causation!
The source is http://ilovecharts.tumblr.com/ – a blog focusing on project management charts of all types.

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys have prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog. We would like to express out thanks to all of the viewers and commentators and look forward to continuing the debate in 2012.  Happy New Year everyone!!

 

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 22,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.