From Traditional to Non-Traditional Projects

By Harold Kerzner, Ph.D. | Senior Executive Director for Project Management, IIL

Background

For almost four decades, companies on a worldwide basis struggled with the creation of a singular methodology that could be used to manage all their projects. The singular methodology was a necessity for senior management that was reluctant to surrender their “command and control” posture over the project management community. The methodologies were designed so that senior management could retain some degree of standardization and control from the top down through the hierarchy and that project teams would not be allowed to make decisions that were reserved for the senior levels of management. Executives, marketing and sales personnel were fearful of what power and authority project managers might obtain.

Today’s project managers do not realize the degrees of mistrust that some of us had to endure as project managers years ago. At that time, if the choice were up to executives in the contractors’ organizations, project managers would not exist, and all projects would be managed by functional management, marketing or sales personnel. But the clients and stakeholders preferred to talk directly to the project managers (rather than communications with just sales and marketing personnel) and encouraged the contractors to recognize the need for creating project management positions.

The Growth of Nontraditional Projects

Singular methodologies provided the executives with the command and control they desired but there were some risks. Executives tried to enforce the belief that the singular methodology was the solution to their project management concerns and that one-size-fits-all, which meant that every project in the company would be required to use the same, singular approach. Unfortunately, executive soon began to realize that not all projects can use the one-size-fits-all methodology. Operational or traditional projects may be able to follow a singular methodology, but strategic and other forms of nontraditional projects may have to be managed differently.

The approach that companies then undertook was to have strategic and nontraditional projects managed by functional managers that were then allowed a great deal of freedom in how they chose to manage the projects. Executives trusted functional managers more so than project managers and were not perceived as a threat to senior management.

By the turn of the century, the number of nontraditional projects was growing. More trust was being placed in the hands of the project managers and companies began recognizing that the one-size-fits-all approach needed to be modified or replaced with flexible methodologies or frameworks, such as agile or Scrum, which provided more freedom and authority to the project managers.

The Impact of the Growth in Nontraditional Projects

In some companies, the number of nontraditional projects was perhaps 200% more than traditional projects as seen in the center of Exhibit 1 below. As the need for more flexibility in project management took hold, changes began to appear in the way that some of the traditional processes were being used.

 

Exhibit 1. Changes in Our View of Project Management Processes

 

The Hexagon of Excellence

The hexagon of excellence identifies some of the changes that companies made as they began to use project management on the nontraditional projects:

  • Integrated processes: Project managers were now expected to make business-based decisions as well as the traditional technical or project-based decisions. As such, business processes were now integrated with project management processes in flexible project management approaches.
  • Culture: Project management was now recognized as processes that can and will affect the entire company rather than just specific functional areas. As such, a project management culture that supports company-wide cooperation must be developed and enforced by senior management.
  • Management Support: Management support is essential. Senior management must realize that they must actively function as project sponsors and serve on governance committees. They must also realize project governance is NOT the same as functional governance and must be willing to understand and accept new levels of authority, responsibility and decision making.
  • Training and Education: Providing training to just the project managers no longer works. If a corporate-wide project management culture is to be created, then it is possible that the entire organization may need to undergo some training.
  • Informal Project Management: Part of the training must promote informal project management practices that are predicated upon people working together and without being forced to rely upon the use of superior-subordinate relationships. Titles and levels of authority should not be critical when working on project teams.
  • Behavioral Excellence: Human resource management courses will grow. Rather than emphasize the traditional behavioral theories, the focus will be on communication, cooperation, teamwork, and trust, with trust perhaps being the most important item.

Capturing Best Practices

For decades, we relied entirely upon capturing best practices, but just those related to project management. Today, we believe that, if you are managing a project, you are managing part of a business and are expected to make business decisions as well as project decisions. Therefore, we are now capturing best practices in all parts of the business rather than in just project management. What we discover as part of our findings are now part of an information warehouse rather than just a best practices library. As seen in Exhibit 1, we are now developing a structured process by which all forms of best practices can be discovered.

Project Management Maturity Models

Typical project management maturity models, as shown in Exhibit 1 still apply, but more models are entering the marketplace. In Exhibit 1, Level 3 may be replaced with flexible methodologies rather than a singular approach. Level 4 is expected to grow significantly as companies realize that benchmarking against companies that are world class leaders in project management may give better results than just benchmarking against companies in their own industry. In Level 5, companies are demonstrating a greater willingness to implement changes in the best interest of the company rather than worrying about their own power base and authority.

Networked PMOs

Companies have recognized the need for PMOs for more than three decades. However, there were significant power struggles for which executive would maintain control of the PMO. There was a belief that “information is power” and whichever executive would control the PMO would become more powerful than his/her contemporaries.

As nontraditional projects grew, there was an apparent need for multiple PMOs. The situation becomes more complex as companies began expanding globally and recognized the need for geographically dispersed PMOs. But some executive still felt threatened by the PMO concept and opted for the creation of “master” and “subordinate” PMOs. Today, this concept seems to have diminished as companies have recognized the importance of networking their PMOs as shown in Exhibit 1.

Conclusion

There is significantly more information we could have discussed related to each component in Exhibit 1 resulting from the growth of nontraditional projects. But what appears obvious is that change is happening and appears to be for the betterment of the project management community. Where project management will take us, we do not know. But what is certain is that there is a growth in the use of nontraditional projects and the accompanying project management processes.

Have a question for Dr. Kerzner? Leave your comment below.

 

About the Author
Harold Kerzner (M.S., Ph.D., Engineering, and M.B.A) is IIL's Senior Executive Director for Project Management. He is a globally recognized expert on project management and strategic planning, and the author of many best-selling textbooks including Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling and Project Management 2.0. Dr. Kerzner has previously taught project management and business administration at Baldwin-Wallace University, engineering at the University of Illinois and business administration at Utah State University. He obtained his industrial experience at Thiokol Corporation where he held both program management and project engineering responsibilities on a variety of NASA, Air Force, Army, Navy, and internal R&D programs.

PMBOK and PMI are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.


Recap: International Project Management Day 2018

By Henk-Jan van der Klis (@hjvanderklis)
Capgemini Engagement Manager, Financial Services and Project Management Consultant

On 1 November 2018, thousands of people gathered online for International Project Management Day 2018: Project, Program, and Portfolio Management in an Age of Digital Disruption, an online learning and knowledge sharing event organized by IIL. The virtual conference gives attendees the opportunity to watch live content, interact in Q&A sessions right after keynote speakers finish their talks, and select some prerecorded presentations in between the keynotes, even in the weeks after the actual event on 1 November 2018.

(Registration is still open for those who would like to attend on demand. REGISTER HERE.)

I will highlight takeaways from some of the presentations I have attended so far. There’s way more content available, ranging from Microsoft® Project going Agile, cracking social media, building machine learning models to transparency being key to project success.

KEYNOTE: Innovation Project Management

Dr. Harold Kerzner (Senior Executive Director, IIL) first introduces his audience to innovation. Be aware that cost reduction measures are a short-term solution, whereas innovation aims at future profits. The outputs of innovation are products and services, new business models. Peter Drucker stated that only marketing and innovation drive growth.

Kerzner explains the difference between incremental and disruptive innovation. Project management approaches should differ between the two. Project management is what delivers business value. Innovation management, in its purest form, is a combination of the management of innovation processes and change management. While incremental innovation may not bring significant changes, disruptive innovation will demand changes.

Three ways the project management and innovation combination is criticized:

  • Traditional project management is a one-size-fits-all approach
  • There's no controlled environment for contemporary projects
  • The devil's triangle for project success (time, cost, scope) cannot be used for innovation

Note that the Sixth Edition of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) addresses value and benefits management. Just like Agile and Scrum are frameworks and require project management to accommodate, innovation also requires project management to evolve and be less rigid. Managers need to recognize the type of project at the start, resist institutional pressure to adapt traditional 'rational' approaches to all projects, and apply an appropriate approach - one tailored for the type of project.

Must-haves in innovation project management in order to deliver value:

  • Feel comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty
  • See the big picture
  • Know and relate to the team and the firm's growth objectives
  • Know the firm's tangible and intangible assets (capabilities and resources)
  • Get close enough to the customers to know what they will buy

KEYNOTE: Reaching New Heights in Project Management

Alan Mallory (Speaker / Author / Performance Coach) shares his two-month quest to climb Mount Everest with his parents and siblings.

His keynote highlights the importance of project management strategies and techniques such as procurement, scope, time management, planning, work breakdown structure, communications, risk, and stakeholder management, and so on.

In hindsight, a hybrid approach with elements from a waterfall and an Agile approach could be derived from the expedition.

KEYNOTE: Design Sinking: How to Fail at Design Thinking – And How to Do It Better

Lukas Bosch (consultant, moderator, trainer, lecturer) teases his audience that he may be talking about Design Sinking. Design thinking could mean thinking about (re)design. Design Thinking can also be understood as a design of a thinking process. Combining the two leads us to think like designers, even if you're not trained as a designer, and to design thoroughly. A holistic view of innovation combines feasibility, viability, and desirability. Design Thinking starts at desirability.

Design Thinking focuses radically on the users, their behavior, and needs, instead of asking what they want. Ideas, innovation, and culture are three dimensions to apply and fail at Design Thinking.

Bosch shows examples of:

  • Putting ideas of a perfect solution by using our experience and imagination as a guiding principle and risk designing for our users rather than ourselves.
  • Claiming to know your customers. First-hand customer insights are critical for Design Thinking's success. We often build on assumptions.
  • Falling in love with an idea. Are your ideas solutions to users' problems? Can you kill your darlings? Fall in love with your users.
  • Not implementing the ideas by lack of ownership and execution power.
  • Judging the new by old standards.
  • Being chained in the system (organization, network). Not only sparks innovation but gives space for solutions to be implemented and improved.

In conclusion, Bosch's presentation teaches us to start, be prepared to fail at some points, avoid pitfalls, and take Design Thinking as an open-ended journey to the future.

Shared Knowledge is Power – Building an Agile Project Management Community

Paul Jones (EMEA Project & Prog. Mgmt. Community Lead, Fujitsu) presents how the project management community at Fujitsu is empowered and stimulated to share knowledge and experience among each other. Use projects to enable change by taking a more Agile approach instead of managing by command and control, require different skill sets, and thrive when lessons learned are passed onto next projects.

The myriad of approaches and practices nowadays is overwhelming, shows the Deloitte blog and tube map Navigating the Agile Landscape. How to meet the challenge?

  • Empower your people to drive the direction of your project management capability
  • Utilize the combined knowledge and experience of your people
  • Put in place a supportive environment to foster knowledge transfer
  • Make knowledge sharing part of the culture

Company size doesn't matter. Learn from failures, embrace what works. Everyone has the opportunity to shape the community. How do you engage with your people? How do you foster knowledge?

Are You Another Project Manager or Mission-Critical?

Mario Arit (Vice President, Project Management, ABB) stresses the importance of critical thinking, way beyond the technical project management skills. Why? The project environment requires certain awareness, if not competencies of the field of expertise, e.g. Financial Services, Construction management, health, and safety. Project managers and teams should be problem solvers and critical thinkers, proactive managers, out-of-the-box thinkers, and fire preventers, rather than firefighters.

Technical skills are not sufficient (think of the factors such as communications and risk management that were failing at the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986). The National Education Association lists four C's:

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving. Be aware that bias leads to poor decisions.
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity and innovation

Where do you learn these skills? Arit doesn't give an answer but states that adding creative and critical thinking skills is a rewarding opportunity and can make the difference between being just another PM or a truly strategic asset.

I'd recommend you study books like Thinking, Fast and Slow and Heuristics and Biases: The Psychology of Intuitive Judgment by Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman.

KEYNOTE: Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation

What does it take to build an organization that can innovate in today’s global economy and embrace new technologies? What kind of leadership is needed? How can you select and develop the kind of leadership talent needed?

These are questions that organization anthropologist Dr. Linda Hill (Harvard Business School Professor) has been researching along with, among others, the former SVP of Technology for Pixar.

She shares examples of leaders from her book, Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation, who have learned how to cultivate “collective genius” and provide a framework for creating organizations in which people are willing and able to innovate.

KEYNOTE: How to Get in Front of Conflict Before It Gets in Front of You

In this presentation on workplace conflict management, Christa Kirby (VP, Global Learning Innovation, IIL) first distinguishes between functional and dysfunctional conflicts. What makes conflicts so hard to deal with?

Can't conflicts be solved in a collaborative and productive way? There's a strong business case for it because the costs of dysfunctional conflicts are embedded in time spent on dealing with the conflict, resulting in increased absence levels, legal procedures, and disengagement, and loss of productivity and motivation.

Feedback from managers directly impacts employee engagement. Perceptions often are only assumptions, but with real emotions coming in. Human nature (fight, flight, freeze), culture (the way we do things here), and our own personalities (e.g. using the DISC model) kick in.

Are biological survival mechanisms, cultural elements, and our own personality traits effective in a specific situation?

Kirby refers to Thomas Crum’s The Magic of Conflict. Conflict is just an interference pattern of energy. Although many ‘tricks’ don’t have a lasting effect, you can try to transform the patterns, channel energy in a more effective direction. What pops up as an issue, may have many underlying problems like personalities, emotions, interests, self-perceptions, hidden expectations, and unresolved issues from the past. Feelings are important and cannot be neglected.

It's easier to dehumanize other people than to accept them as complex human beings. Kirby explains the lifecycle of conflict. Challenges on the personal, cultural, and biological level can make conflict management difficult. Solutions can be found in taking a 'whole brain' approach.

Six steps to a conflict resolution conversation:

  1. Identify your goals for the conversation
  2. Create a safe space for the discussion to take place
  3. Seek out the other party's perspective
  4. Listen to understand instead of reply
  5. Share your observations and perspective
  6. Engage in collaborative problem solving

Conclusion

The IIL International Project Management Day virtual event is a great learning opportunity, with personal experiences, insights from project management trainers, and research-based findings to help you face tomorrow’s challenges as project manager.

Learn more about the IPM Day online conference and register here. 

About the Author
Henk-Jan van der Klis is a Capgemini engagement manager, financial services & project management consultant, project management trainer for the Capgemini Academy, seasoned editor, and daily blogger. He lives in Balkbrug, the Netherlands with his wife and three children. Check out www.henkjanvanderklis.nl or connect through www.linkedin.com/in/henkjanvanderklis/.


A Step-By-Step Guide to Improving Your Resource Management

By Analuz Montejano | IIL Instructor and Sr. Consultant

Project Managers and their teams carry out planned projects on a daily basis, such as the development of new applications. To be successful, they must be able to evaluate and allocate resources necessary to complete deliverables on time, with quality, and without exceeding the budget. However, there are a lot of challenges, many of which arise because of limitations in current processes and tools, which impede success.

Project Resource Management is a process designed to use human and tangible assets, materials, and equipment efficiently and effectively. Since 2017, project resource management has focused not only on human resources, but also on the equipment, materials, and supplies. The process consists of identifying, acquiring, and managing the resources at the right time and place because the goal of resource management is to manage all their sources. It is one of the most difficult processes in which to plan, control, maintain, and achieve objectives.

Read on for steps you can take to improve resource management on your projects!

Prioritize work and include all the resources in the WBS:

    • Evaluate the objective of the project in order to complete the decision-making process, rather than contract or buy with a provider. Use the WBS – work packages.
    • Include change control procedures in your methodology; you will need them in the different phases of the project.
    • Resource planning begins by creating a detailed list of every resource, human and non-human, needed to complete the project. Involve team members in the process, since some aspects of the project may require resources you don’t know about. It’s better to plan for every possible item and not use them than to underestimate your needs and end up scrambling and paying a premium at the last minute.

Take adequate time to make reasonable and realistic estimates:

Perfection is nearly impossible to achieve in resource management, but you should still aim for it. Once project priorities have been clarified, take adequate time to estimate schedules and budget. Look to completed projects, including what went wrong, to help develop reasonable estimates and forecasts. Additionally, while you need to listen to management, estimates and forecasting should be realistic, and not simply fit management targets or unreasonable periods. Update estimates periodically to reflect changes such as new decisions, shifts in resources, and the impact of these changes on the project as they happen.

Review which resources are available in your company, capability, and number, or if you need a supplier to hire or buy them:

Pay special attention to the people or technical suppliers that have more demand in the company or the times that you need to accomplish the procurement or bidding process, in order to schedule and reserve them on time. Review their availability and try to be proactive, which is the most important aspect in order to complete the deliverables.

Consider the options of working in the organization with the technical and human resources:

  • Different types of programs and projects will obtain benefits with specific technologies; it is important to know the size, cost, duration, and participants on the project
  • Ensure that the tools and techniques that you selected will be aligned with the company, create efficiencies, and obtain the benefits for the project
  • This will enable your organization to plan, manage, and deliver work – utilizing a range of methodologies such as traditional or milestone-driven, iterative, Agile, and even collaborative work
  • Embrace different ways of working across the organization and resources
  • Always include the Procurement area when you have suppliers on your project

Use a Responsibility Assignment Matrix:

Once you prioritize the needed resources, define the people who are responsible for task or overall project completion with a responsibility assignment matrix (RAM). Use the matrix to clarify roles and responsibilities for the full scope of the project. RAMs are often simple RACI charts (responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed). Charts can be created by naming the individual or role. Learn more in “A Comprehensive Project Management Guide for Everything RACI

Expect the unexpected throughout the project life cycle:

In the life cycle of the project, is common to find different changes or lack of resource planning, quantity, capacity, or lack of quality specification; there is increased risk and conflicts will occur because unexpected events and changes are inevitable.

Plan work and resources with a Work Breakdown Structure:

You need a strong WBS with a work package for planning work, managing assignments, and assigning deliverables; when assigning resources to work, you need to provide all the quality specifications and the deliverables acceptance.

Consider each activity with start/finish dates and durations for defined work and assignments; don’t forget one responsible for each activity.

Utilize processes where possible to reduce administration.

Manage resource allocation:

There are many parts to planning a project and all of them are important. But the project won’t get done if you have not efficiently assigned your resources to specific tasks.

Don’t forget resources can mean many things. The people on your team are resources, but so are the tools they use, equipment, and even the site where you’re going to do the work.

Use high-level buckets at the project or phase level as a starting point if resource management is new to your organization.

Start by collecting all the WBS activities that will be necessary to complete the project. Activities are smaller parts of a larger job. They are the steps you must take to get from the beginning of a project to the finish line.

Use Schedule and Budget Reports:

Each activity has duration and resources, and you must determine how long it will take those tasks to go from start to finish – in other words, the activity or task duration. In addition, you need to know the cost for each resource.

Keeping an eye on all the moving parts of a project ensures that you maintain control of time, budget, activities, risk, and changes. Visually representing data in one place facilitates transparency and communication with team members and holds the line on schedules and approved budgets.

You need to keep things simple and easy in order to complete the schedule and budget report.

Adopt a tool for tracking time and cost for the different types of resources.

Use Resource Leveling:

Also known as resource smoothing, this is part of the resource management juggling act. It means you are aware of and managing resource availability across a single project or multiple projects. You can extend planned timeframes for specific tasks, avoid over- or under-allocating team members, and prevent team burn-out.

Calculate the Utilization Rate:

This number tells you exactly what percentage of a team member’s time resources are being used based on your time allocation. The goal is to work to full capacity, so you don’t waste any time (or money). To calculate the utilization rate, take the number of hours a resource worked relative to the total number of hours they had available to work.

Consider the importance of Risk Management and Change Management:

Resource management carries a high-risk element as it is an issue that PMs face every day. Resources are borrowed from existing teams to work on new projects, high-visibility projects, and new business all the time, and the resource manager is forced to “recast” the teams. There is a lot of negotiation between teams for the same talent, and the resource manager is central to that negotiation; it may require rolling delivery dates for the talent to be able to move from deliverable to deliverable.

A project can bring about change in the workplace. Every phase that is reached must be assessed for positive and negative impacts to the project itself and the overall work environment. Measure and monitor impacts and report them to project sponsors and team members. Resource managers also have a part in organizational change, as companies continue to create innovative processes and systems, staff roles and responsibilities, and incorporate technology for greater efficiency.

Maintain constant communication with the Procurement team and its suppliers:

Share the schedule in advance, as well as risk or contingencies with the suppliers and Procurement team in order to obtain alternatives for project control.

Schedule and budget for non-project time:

Ensure that administrative time, paid time off, meetings, emails, etc. are accounted for when planning for both the long term and short term.

Don’t forget about unexpected project activities (risk and changes); be sure to provide a mechanism to capture this time – otherwise, you will lose visibility for this reduction of capacity and you need to use the contingency reserve.

Keep your team motivated and happy:

Keep your team trained and updated. This will help productivity; don’t ever over-utilize human resources.

Most “resources” are people – and people are ultimately responsible for a successful project. Resource and project managers need to be master negotiators as they navigate between multiple project management teams who (of course) each consider their project to be the highest priority. Motivation and happiness are important for all individuals in the project life cycle.

Complexity, flexibility, soft skills, and planning for the unknown – dealing with the unknown is the norm in resource management, and managers need to be flexible and be ready to deal with complexity.

Avoid or limit multi-tasking:

Multi-tasking sounds efficient, but often results in lower overall productivity.

Try to limit the number of parallel tasks and your resources will perform better.

Have ways you've improved your resource management? Tell us about it in the comments!


About the Author
Ana Luz Montejano is an instructor and senior consultant, specialist in project management, program and portfolio, as well as PMO implementation and soft skills abilities. She has extensive experience providing support and advice to corporations for various industries and sectors, which shares through such activities as instructor and consultant in a wide range of multinational companies in Latin America, Ana Luz is Professor and speaker for several universities in Mexico. She was Financial Vice President of PMI® Mexico Chapter in 1999 and 2002, member of PMI® since 1996 – present.

References:

Kerzner, H. Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling and Controlling, 12th Edition. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2013.

Project Management Institute, Inc. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition, Newtown Square, PA, 2013.


Project Management and Leadership Competencies: A Snapshot

By Dr. Willis H. Thomas, PMP, CPT 

The Project Management Institute (PMI)® Talent Triangle® has addressed the need for project leadership competencies.

Technical competencies can be thought of as the science or hard skills; whereas, behavioral competencies can be considered the art or the soft skills. It is important to have a balance of the hard and soft skills in the ongoing professional development of team members.

The PMI Talent Triangle

(1) Technical Project Management
(2) Strategic and Business Management
(3) Leadership

Below is a contrast between project management vs. project leadership competencies.

 

Project Management Technical
Competency
Project Management Behavioral
Competency
Project
Leadership Technical Competency
Project
Leadership
Behavioral
Competency
Cost Track budget Resolve conflict when discussing project budget Oversee Return on Investment (ROI) analysis Direct financial management
initiatives
Time Coordinate schedules Improve acceptance to schedule compression Synchronize schedules to strategic plans Refine KPIs and link CSFs
Scope Control scope Monitor perceptions of scope creep Revisit scope for potential growth Gain acceptance for related sub-projects
Quality Confirm requirements are met Exceed expectations through relationships Highlight benefits through Return on Quality (ROQ) Drive Quality initiatives through a quality system
Risk Identify uncertainties Reach consensus on risk mitigation Enhance risk approaches using guidelines Change risk averse attitudes to risk neutral
Resources Align resources, i.e., people, systems, equipment, facilities, materials Ensure ongoing effective utilization of resources Identify resource gaps and needs for sun-setting or replacement Optimize resource use through i.e.,  motivation and upgrades
Communication Hold meetings Promote active meeting engagement Analyze meeting effectiveness Improve virtual meeting facilitation
Stakeholder Create stakeholder register Increase stakeholder engagement Use tools such as Power and Influence Grid Re-focus challenging stakeholders
Integration Participate in a business case Show opportunity and sunk costs Research business cases for validity Defend a business case for approval
Procurement Select vendor based upon criteria Manage vendor relations Evaluate vendors using online tools Guide vendors for improved performance

Note: Items in italics represent the Competing Demands experienced in projects and items in bold italics represent the other four Knowledge Areas identified in the A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).

For a downloadable image of the table above, click here.

More on this topic of project leadership…

Formalized programs and academic infrastructure for project leadership has been established by PMI® to provide sound guidance on the recommended approach.

For example, The Global Accreditation Center (GAC) established in 2001 for Project Management Education Programs is an academic accreditation body with policies, procedures, and standards for project, program, portfolio management and related programs at the bachelor’s, postgraduate and doctoral degree levels that operate independently from PMI. GAC is also a member of the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA).

The PMI website provides information about GAC and the 100+ degree programs that have promoted. Being educated in project management and leadership programs is an important research effort for those making an investment in project management and leadership certifications, credentials, and degrees.

Whether an individual decides to pursue project leadership through ongoing education or through a Post-Graduate degree option like a Master of Science in Project Leadership (such as available through the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, where I am an adjunct professor) will depend upon their career goals. The decision does require research whether a Master of Science or an MBA in Project Leadership will lead to the desired educational achievement.

The International Institute for Learning (IIL) is a PMI Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) and there is likely a path forward that will enable students to choose what path they decide to pursue if it involves a degree vs. certification. In other words, courses that you have taken at IIL can be part of your educational roadmap and long-term strategy, i.e., becoming a professor and teaching project management and leadership courses part-time during retirement.

Having a strategy for your project management and leadership education is important as one could expect to invest up to $50k to complete a post-graduate degree in project leadership.

To this end, IIL offers courses to enhance leadership competencies. Find out more by browsing our leadership courses or requesting a free consultation.

PMI, Talent Triangle, The PMI logo, and PMBOK Guide are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc. 


About the Author

Willis H. Thomas, Ph.D., PMP, CPT has worked for large corporations and academic institutions in the areas of human resources, learning and development, quality assurance, project management, sales and marketing, measurement and evaluation, and operations.

He has been in senior management for life sciences companies for the past 15 years. Dr. Thomas is a member of adjunct faculty at the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, International Institute for Learning and Institute of Validation Technology.

His publications have received global recognition from associations such as the Project Management Institute (PMI) where he received the Cleland Award for “The Basics of Project Evaluation and Lessons Learned.” This book was an 8-year effort that enhanced the framework for the evaluation of projects using the PMBOK® Guide.

He has been a featured speaker on an international basis and has received the Apex Publication Excellence Award for implementing useful tools for project management, evaluation, and training.


Can IBM's Watson Improve Your Organization’s Lessons Learned Process?

By J. LeRoy Ward,  PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CSM, CSPO |  Executive Vice President – Enterprise Solutions, IIL 

Certainly, by now, you’ve heard of Watson, the superfast supercomputer that beat former Jeopardy! champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter on the game show back in 2011.

Since then, IBM has been promoting Watson as a valuable “tool,” helping organizations such as:

  • KONE to analyze data in elevators and escalators around the world to keep people moving smoothly, safely, and efficiently;
  • KPMG to drive innovation and empower its employees; and,
  • Woodside Energy to retain the knowledge of its senior experts and pass it to new employees.

It was this last example that caught my eye.

Woodside Energy is Australia’s largest independent oil and gas company. Like many other companies, Woodside was facing a “brain drain” caused by the retirement of their most knowledgeable engineers. The issue facing the company was how to retain the knowledge of senior experts and make it available to junior engineers and other employees to locate, analyze, and learn from that knowledge.

They decided that Watson was the answer.

Here’s what Woodside did (as described in IBM’s website):

  • Watson was trained – Watson absorbed over 600,000 pages of documents, from reports to correspondence.
  • Watson was tested – The machine learning model was continuously updated to be able to analyze a higher volume of records.
  • Watson was launched – Over 80% of employees adopted Watson for their day-to-day work.
  • Watson got results – Employees used to spend 80% of their time researching problems and 20% fixing it; Watson reversed that.
  • Watson keeps learning – The employees are encouraged to provide feedback, be it as a new, intermediate or experienced user.

It would appear that the use of Watson as a “knowledge management” repository is having great benefits for the company.

In the practice of project management, we are encouraged to collect, store, reference, and add to “Lessons Learned” to avoid the mistakes (as well as benefit by the best practices) employed by others in our organization in their work on projects.

Yet, so many companies with whom I’ve worked, while talking a good game in this area, have no easy way to do all of this. As a consequence, lessons learned repositories are fragmented, not automated, and generally of little use in the everyday lives of the project managers they are intended to serve.

As I see it, there certainly is a strong parallel between how Woodside Energy is using Watson and how it might be used for lessons learned in project management.

There’s no magic to lessons learned. It all comes down to capturing knowledge, organizing it in some coherent fashion, and making it easily available to those who need it. But, as many companies have found, it’s a lot easier said than done.

I bet Woodside Energy made a significant investment in Watson, but the payoff apparently is worth the money. Could the ROI of using Watson for lessons learned be positive as well? I think so.

In fact, it would be interesting if, let’s say IBM itself, a sophisticated global organization with a strong and mature project management process, used Watson for its own project management lessons learned repository. Boy, that would make a great example, wouldn’t it? Maybe they’re doing it and I just haven’t read about it.

If you know of any organization using Watson, or other sophisticated technology platforms for lessons learned, please let me know. I’m sure everyone would love to hear about it.


J. LeRoy Ward is a highly respected consultant and adviser to Global Fortune 500 Corporations and government agencies in the areas of project, program, and portfolio management. With more than 38 years of government and private sector experience, LeRoy specializes in working with senior executives to understand their role in project and program sponsorship, governance, portfolio management and the strategic execution of projects and programs.


Can the Words "Innovation" and "Project Management" Be Used In The Same Sentence?

By Harold Kerzner, Ph.D. | Senior Executive Director for Project Management, IIL

INTRODUCTION

Companies need growth for survival.

Companies cannot grow simply through cost reduction and reengineering efforts.

Companies are recognizing that brand loyalty accompanied by a higher level of quality does not always equate to customer retention unless supported by some innovations.

According to management guru Peter Drucker, there are only two sources for growth: marketing and innovation [Drucker, 2008]. Innovation is often viewed as the Holy Grail of business and the primary driver for growth. Innovation forces companies to adapt to an ever-changing environment and to be able to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

Companies are also aware that their competitors will eventually come to market with new products and services that will make some existing products and services obsolete, causing the competitive environment to change. Continuous innovation is needed, regardless of current economic conditions, to provide a firm with a sustainable competitive advantage and to differentiate themselves from their competitors. The question, of course, is “How do we manage innovation needs?”

INNOVATION AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT

For years, there has been a debate as to whether the words “innovation” and “project management” should be used in the same sentence. Some researchers argue that project management and innovation management should be treated as separate disciplines.

Innovation requires:

  • An acceptance of significant risk, more so than in traditional project management
  • A great deal of uncertainty
  • A focus on strategic goals and possibly no business case exists
  • Unknown constraints and assumptions that continuously change
  • Decision making in an unfamiliar landscape
  • A creative mindset
  • Collaboration across all enterprise organizational boundaries
  • Significant interfacing with customers in every market segment
  • A different leadership style than with traditional project management
  • A set of tools different than what is being taught in traditional project management courses

Some tools typically used when managing innovation include:

  • Design thinking
  • Storytelling
  • Decision-making flow charts
  • Value proposition
  • Business model thinking
  • Wall of ideas with post-it notes
  • Ideation
  • Prototyping, perhaps continuously

Innovation management, in its purest form, is a combination of the management of innovation processes and change management. It refers to products, services, business processes, and accompanying transformational needs, whereby the organization must change the way they conduct their business. The change can be incremental or radical.

Project management practices generally follow the processes and domain areas identified in the Project Management Institute (PMI)® A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). Strategic innovation follows other processes such as strategizing, entrepreneurship, changing and investing [de Witt & Meyer, 2014].

But now, companies are realizing that innovation strategy is implemented through projects. Simply stated, we are managing our business as though it is a series of projects. Project management has become the delivery system for innovation activities, but the integration is complex and varies with the type of innovation project.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT IS A BUSINESS DELIVERY SYSTEM

Today’s project managers are seen more so as managing part of a business than managing just a project. Project managers are now treated as market problem-solvers and expected to be involved in business decisions as well as project decisions. End-to-end project management is now coming of age. In the past, project managers were actively involved mainly in just project execution with the responsibility of providing a deliverable or an outcome. Today, with end-to-end project management, the project manager is actively involved in all life-cycle phases including idea generation and product commercialization.

For decades, most project managers were trained in traditional project management practices and were ill-equipped to manage innovation projects. Today, attempts are being made to integrate all of this into a single profession, namely innovation project management (IPM).

PROJECT MANAGEMENT LITERATURE

There exists a plethora of literature on project management. Unfortunately, most of the literature focuses on linear project management models with the assumption that “one size fits all.” While this may hold true in some industries and for some projects, the concept of “one size fits all” does not apply to projects involving innovation. Innovation varies from industry to industry, and even companies within the same industry cannot come to an agreement on how innovation management should work.

The situation gets even worse when companies try to use traditional project management for business processes such as business model innovation, where you have the greatest degree of risk and uncertainty, where traditional risk management planning will not work, and where a great deal of flexibility is needed for decision making. Different project management approaches, many requiring a higher level of flexibility, will be dictated by the level of technology, the amount of product versus product changes, and whether the impact is expected to disrupt the markets.

Project managers need flexibility in their ability to select the appropriate tools for their projects and customize the processes to fit the needs of the projects. This holds true even for those projects that do not require innovation. The future will be flexible project management models such as those used in Agile and Scrum projects.

“Managers need to recognize the type of project at the start, resist institutional pressure to adapt traditional ‘rational’ approaches to all projects and apply an appropriate approach – one tailored for the type of project” [Lenfle & Loch, 2010]. Traditional project management does not distinguish between types of projects. Articles are appearing in literature that propose a methodology to classify projects to guide the design of a suitable project management model [Geraldi et al., 2011].

We have learned from Agile and Scrum that flexible project management approaches are necessary for many projects. This same thinking will be required for innovation projects. We will need different tools and different skill sets than most project managers currently use. 

Have a question for Dr. Kerzner? Leave your comment below.


About the Author
Harold Kerzner (M.S., Ph.D., Engineering, and M.B.A) is IIL's Senior Executive Director for Project Management. He is a globally recognized expert on project management and strategic planning, and the author of many best-selling textbooks including Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling and Project Management 2.0. Dr. Kerzner has previously taught project management and business administration at Baldwin-Wallace University, engineering at the University of Illinois and business administration at Utah State University. He obtained his industrial experience at Thiokol Corporation where he held both program management and project engineering responsibilities on a variety of NASA, Air Force, Army, Navy and internal R&D programs.

REFERENCES

Drucker, P. F. (2008). The Essential Drucker. Reissue Edition, Harper Business, New York.

Witt, B. de, & Meyer, R. (2014). Strategy: An international perspective, Cengage Learning EMEA, Andover.

Lenfle, M. & Loch, C. (2010). Lost roots: How project management came to emphasize control over flexibility novelty, California Management Review, 53 (1), 32 - 55.

Geraldi, J. G., Maylor, H. & Williams, T. (2011). Now, let’s make it really complex (complicated): A systematic review of the complexities of projects. International

Journal of Operations & Production Management, 31 (9), 966 - 990.

PMBOK and PMI are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.


A Balanced View of the Competing Demands through the Lens of Evaluation

By Dr. Willis H. Thomas, PMP, CPT 

In project management, keeping a balanced view of the competing demands (cost, time, scope, quality, risk and resources), requires evaluation to be at the center of the model. Evaluation involves a determination of merit (quality), worth (value) and significance (importance). Placing evaluation at the center helps the project team maintain focus on the potential impacts to the competing demands (AKA competing constraints):

  • Cost = budget, including contingency reserves and management reserves
  • Time = schedule, including Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and milestones
  • Scope = what is to be included and excluded
  • Quality = specific requirements to meet project objectives and key stakeholder expectations
  • Risk = Uncertainties that can be positive or negative
  • Resources = People, systems, facilities, equipment, materials and supplies

Inherent in the competing demands is give and take. For example, by increasing:

  • SCOPE, it is anticipated that it will inflate the COST
  • QUALITY, it is assumed that it will lengthen the amount of required TIME
  • RESOURCES, it is expected that the RISK will be reduced

Give and take enables a Domino Effect or chain reaction. This concept was initially popularized by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1950. The domino effect is the cumulative effect produced when one issue effects one (or more) other issues. For example, a change in the law (i.e., tax rate) in one city will likely influence changes in nearby cities. In this instance, one competing demand (i.e., taxation) will probably impact other competing constraints (i.e., consumer buying behavior).

The domino effect sometimes concerns Opportunity Cost, the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one option is chosen. For example, if a decision has been made to invest in land development using available neighborhood land to support additional parking of cars due to limited street parking, then this land cannot be used for another good idea such as a park or recreational space for families and their pets.

Take our upcoming live virtual classroom -  Commercial and Contract Management for Project and Program Managers"

Here opportunity cost considers the convenience of parking cars in a centralized area and freeing up space on the streets, which has tangible and intangible benefits, such as increasing neighborhood safety, reducing air pollution, decreasing traffic congestion, etc.  This option of centralized parking space is compared to the neighborhood park social benefits, which may include allowing children to have a place to play together, exercising on the walking path, promoting unity within the neighborhood, etc. To arrive at which is the right decision (e.g. parking space vs. neighborhood park), a study may be performed to determine the short and long-range benefits of each option, using different evaluation approaches, such as transportation traffic analysis.

Keeping evaluation at the center while considering the ongoing nature of the Monitoring and Controlling Process Group keeps evaluation at the forefront. Mapping the competing demands to basic principles of evaluation will provide the following insight summarized in this table below.

 

Respectively C/T/S/Q/U/R, when looked at in terms of variance from the baseline, represents overall project performance.

About the Author

Willis H. Thomas, Ph.D., PMP, CPT has worked for large corporations and academic institutions in the areas of human resources, learning and development, quality assurance, project management, sales and marketing, measurement and evaluation, and operations.

He has been in senior management for life sciences companies for the past 15 years. Dr. Thomas is a member of adjunct faculty at the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, International Institute for Learning and Institute of Validation Technology.

His publications have received global recognition from associations such as the Project Management Institute (PMI) where he received the Cleland Award for “The Basics of Project Evaluation and Lessons Learned.” This book was an 8-year effort that enhanced the framework for the evaluation of projects using the PMBOK® Guide.

He has been a featured speaker on an international basis and has received the Apex Publication Excellence Award for implementing useful tools for project management, evaluation, and training.


Project Managers Need to Focus on the User Experience – Their Own!

By J. LeRoy Ward,  PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CSM, CSPO   |   Executive Vice President – Enterprise Solutions, IIL

Odd title, I know. What does it really mean? Let me phrase it as a question:

What’s it like to work with, or for, you? In other words, what’s the “experience” you provide to “users” when they engage with you?

Today, UX, or user experience, is of paramount concern among product manufacturers and service providers. Take Amazon, for example. As a Prime User, the UX of logging on, ordering, and receiving products within two business days (here in the U.S.) is almost “frictionless” as they like to say. It’s quick, easy, and accurate.

Returns? Not a problem. Tracking an order? Piece of cake. Delivery to my mailbox (or door if the package is too big)? The United States Postal Service has it down pat, and they even deliver on Sundays! That’s the UX that Amazon provides its customers.

But UX is also key in service delivery as well. Checked into a hotel recently, or rented a car, or went to the grocery store, or went to the bank? What was that like? What technologies have these industries instituted that made your experience better, faster, or more convenient? Okay, you get the point. Now, let’s turn to you.

What type of UX do you provide to your client? Is it frictionless?

For example, do you:

Respond quickly to questions or issues?
Always have the latest progress information on hand?
Anticipate their needs and reach out when required?
Share the bad news along with the good so they always know where they stand?
Show up on time, prepared for whatever meeting or event is scheduled?
Have a positive attitude?
Show creativity and flexibility in handling project matters?
Conduct your affairs with a high level of integrity and honor?
Place the client’s needs above yours or your company’s?
Do what you say you’re going to do, and in a timely manner?

On the Net Promoter Score survey, when asked “Would you recommend [your name here] to a family member, friend, or business colleague?” would your client answer "yes"?

If you can answer yes to all the questions above, including the Net Promoter Score, then your personal UX is at a very high level and you’re doing well. If not, you might want to start thinking about another approach.

What about your team? How would they evaluate your UX as it relates to your relationship with them?

In almost every Project Management 101 course and text where we, as project managers, are advised, if not admonished, to negotiate for the best team members we can find in our organizations, it’s as if there are folks out there who would jump at the chance of being on our team. Just like when you were a kid and you were waiting to be selected for the best baseball team in your local sandlot games.

But are your work colleagues really “hoppin’ from one foot to the other” waiting for you to negotiate hard to get them on your team? It depends. It depends on how you treated them the last time they were on your team.

I have always counseled project managers to ask themselves one key question regarding team members. “Why would anyone want to be on your team?” One thing I always did on projects was to meet with each team member individually and ask them what they wanted to get out of working on this project. If I could help them meet their goals I did; if not, I’d let them know.

At least they knew I was making an attempt to help them grow professionally. But that’s not all of course. Treating people with respect is just table stakes in this era. People want to have fun, be creative, and come to work excited about making a difference. If you can provide that type of environment, your UX will be off the charts.

How do you know what your UX is? Start by asking your sponsor and manager. Then have some “crucial conversations,” as some pundit once wrote, with those closest to you whom you know will be honest. If you don’t like what you hear, you can start working on those soft skills that really make a difference.

Hitting project “home runs” is not just about meeting deadlines and budgets; it even goes beyond bringing benefits to fruition. It’s making people feel great about their experience working with, or for, you. 

In the end, as another maxim puts it, "people may never remember what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel."

That’s your personal UX. Make it the best it can be.

Ready to improve your personal UX? IIL can help. Take a look at our Business Skills courses, or request a free consultation.


J. LeRoy Ward is a highly respected consultant and adviser to Global Fortune 500 Corporations and government agencies in the areas of project, program, and portfolio management. With more than 38 years of government and private sector experience, LeRoy specializes in working with senior executives to understand their role in project and program sponsorship, governance, portfolio management and the strategic execution of projects and programs.


We Asked People Why They Earned the PMP® Credential

By J. LeRoy Ward,  PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CSM, CSPO   |   Executive Vice President – Enterprise Solutions, IIL 

Why do people earn the Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential? Is it because, as the Project Management Institute (PMI)® reported in its 10th Annual Salary Survey, that PMPs earn 23% more than those who don’t hold the certificate? Perhaps.

Is it because it is the most ubiquitous and desired credential on earth, with PMI Today® reporting that as of April 30, 2018, there were 871,893 active PMPs?  Maybe.

Or is it because, as PMI® suggests, it is not based on any specific methodology and it can be easily transferred between industries, market segments, and geographic locations? Is it because  PMI conducts in-depth studies to ensure the PMP reflects current skills, knowledge and best practices; and, the credential encourages professional growth through a continuing credentialing requirement? Of course.

But to understand why people earn the credential, we need to ask them. That’s just what I did.

A while ago, I posted the following question in one of the many LinkedIn groups I belong to: What do you think is the main benefit you realized as a result of earning the PMP? 

Here’s a selection of responses from real people:

“Was [a] culmination of proof to myself that I have the knowledge to do the work”
“Don’t forget the ongoing education (requirement). There’s a degree of commitment to the PMP that adds to its validity.”
“It changed my perspective of handling projects. It gives a structured way to approach pretty much everything we do.”
“To stay competitive in the job market. Period.”
“…the certification…will…get rid of various addictions, to recycle and learn the practices another way.”
“Not all carpenters are alike. The certification gives those hiring you a comfort level that you’re serious about your profession.”
“..when I prepared for the certification, I learned about some topics …I didn’t know about. Gave me self-confidence..in spite of certifications being considered ‘a paper’ for some clients.”
“The greatest value for me was learning a more systematic approach than the way the Army was doing things.”
“Wanted to shape a project culture in the company and talking all with the same language.”
“The PMP gave me a guide to follow.”
“..most of all, it gave me the confidence to look for a new job. And of course, it helped me get that next job….and the next.”
“The association with PMI chapters brings greater value for your career.”

Based on all the responses I received, I can say with confidence that there are two primary reasons real people earn the PMP:

  • They see it as a challenge to meet the highest levels of professional standards
  • They want greater access to jobs and higher salaries

You can’t blame them, can you? Look at it another way—can 871,893 people be wrong?

Ready to earn your PMP? IIL can help. Learn more about our PMP Certification Prep course or request a free consultation

PMP, PMI and PMI Today are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc. 


J. LeRoy Ward is a highly respected consultant and adviser to Global Fortune 500 Corporations and government agencies in the areas of project, program, and portfolio management. With more than 38 years of government and private sector experience, LeRoy specializes in working with senior executives to understand their role in project and program sponsorship, governance, portfolio management and the strategic execution of projects and programs.


What is Project Management?

By J. LeRoy Ward,  PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CSM, GWCPM, SCPM   |   Executive Vice President – Enterprise Solutions, IIL 

What do the Panama Canal and the development of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner have in common?

At first glance, you might say “absolutely nothing.” But, they have a lot in common. Both were the outcomes of projects. And although vastly different in every respect, the Panama Canal, and the Boeing 787 share two characteristics:

  1. Each is unique. There’s only one Boeing 787 Dreamliner and there’s only one Panama Canal.
  2. Each is the result of a temporary endeavor. In short, each had a definite beginning and an end.

Once completed, of course, the Panama Canal became operational, and once developed, the Boeing 787 went into service with many more being manufactured as I write this. In short, the design and construction of the Panama Canal, and the design and manufacture of the Boeing 787 were projects.

And these projects were led by competent and highly trained individuals, appropriately named Project Managers, who applied knowledge, skills, techniques, and tools, to all the project activities to produce the end result that met the requirements. That’s called Project Management.

Let’s get a bit more formal. According to the Project Management Institute’s (PMI)® A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), project management is defined as "the application of knowledge skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements."

Projects have been around for thousands of years. Ever see a picture of the Pyramids of Giza? That’s a project. How about the Great Wall of China? Yup, another project. What about the International Space Station? You guessed it…another project.

Projects come in all shapes and sizes. Have you planned a summer vacation lately? Well, that’s a project. And, how about all those home “projects” that take up our evenings and weekends? The name says it all, doesn’t it?

What are you doing at work these days? Are you working with a group of folks to get a particular product to market, developing a new app, or launching a marketing campaign? If you are, you’re working on a project. Projects are everywhere.

As projects become larger and more complex we break them down into various phases such as Initiating, Planning, Executing and so forth. Every industry has their project “life cycle” as it’s called. We do so because it’s a lot easier to estimate and control our work when we break it down into pieces, rather than trying to grapple with the whole thing at once.

We might even use certain sophisticated tools to help us schedule our project, or analyze risk to avoid trouble. All these activities are part of project management.

If the work you’re doing conforms to the two characteristics above, guess what, you’re working on a project, whether you call it that or not. And, the activities you’re engaged in to get the job done successfully is called project management. Finally, if you’re “leading the charge," you’re the Project Manager.

So, welcome to the wonderful world of projects and project management. You’re in good company because there are millions more just like you - people who are working on projects every day, and may not have knowledge of formal project management methods. Take the next step by exploring our other blog posts on Project Management, and enrolling in introductory Project Management course from IIL.

New to Project Management? Start with a Project Management Fundamentals course from IIL

J. LeRoy Ward is a highly respected consultant and adviser to Global Fortune 500 Corporations and government agencies in the areas of project, program and portfolio management. With more than 38 years of government and private sector experience, LeRoy specializes in working with senior executives to understand their role in project and program sponsorship, governance, portfolio management and the strategic execution of projects and programs.