Innovation Project Management

By Harold Kerzner, Ph.D. | Senior Executive Director, International Institute for Learning (IIL)

We are excited to bring you this blog post on Innovation Project Management, which is adapted from Dr. Harold Kerzner’s new book of the same title. Below, he explains why this topic is so important, the types of challenges that innovation project managers face, and much more. Get your copy today! Use code KERZNERBLOG for $20 off. Order on the IIL website.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) has recently celebrated 50 years of providing the world with project management competencies. In the early years, a large portion of the competencies were established to support the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) requirements placed upon their contractors. Most of these projects were engineering oriented and headed up by project managers with engineering backgrounds. Project sponsors were assigned to make many of the business-related decisions whereas project managers focused heavily upon the technical decisions. In many instances, contractors were opposed to the acceptance of project management practices. They would accept them after the DoD made project management a requirement to be awarded a contract.

As seen by the contractors, the bulk of the contracts were traditional or operational activities with well-defined statements of work, minimal risks, and an agreed upon budget and schedule. Executives placed limited trust in the hands of the project managers for fear that project managers may end up making decisions that were reserved for the senior levels of management. To limit the decisions that project managers could make, senior management created a singular project management approach (a one-size-fits-all methodology) that all PMs had to follow. The singular methodology was based upon rigid policies and procedures. The evaluation of project management performance was based upon how well the PMs followed the methodology. In many companies, project management was not seen as a career path slot but was instead treated as a part-time activity one had to perform in addition to one’s normal duties.

Projects related to strategic planning or strategy development were placed in the hands of functional managers because executives trusted the functional managers more so than they trusted the project managers. Functional managers were given the freedom to use whatever approaches they wish on the strategic projects and most frequently did not follow traditional project management guidelines.

By the turn of the century, companies began to reevaluate whether functional managers were the right people to manage strategic projects, especially those involving innovation. The critical issue was with bonuses. Functional managers were receiving year-end bonuses based upon the firm’s profitability over a 12-month period. As such, functional managers were using their best resources on the short-term projects that would maximize their year-end bonuses and the long-term strategic projects that would provide the firm with a sustainable competitive advantage began to suffer due to staffing deficiencies. Short-term profits became more important than long-term growth.

Competitive factors were now forcing companies to realize that survival was predicated upon growth and innovation was a critical component. All companies desire growth. But without some innovations, the opportunities may be limited. And even if the firm does have a few successful innovations, failure can still occur if the company focuses on past successes without developing a culture for continuous and sustainable innovations. Today’s industry leaders can become tomorrow’s failures without constantly challenging results.

Recognizing the need for some changes in the way that strategic projects, especially those involving innovation, were being managed, the focus naturally turned to project management applications. But there was the critical issue as to whether the core competencies used by PMs for the management of traditional or operational projects would be applicable to innovation projects. Competencies for managing traditional or operational projects are reasonably well-defined in documents such as PMI’s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and IPMA’s Competency Baseline, Version 3.0. However, for innovation projects, there is no universal agreement on the content of the competencies. Many of the traditional project management competencies are also components of innovation project management competencies, but there are others related to the types of decisions that must be made based upon the company’s core competencies for managing operational work and the type of innovation project at hand.

Over the past two decades, there has been a great deal of literature published on innovation and innovation management. Converting a creative idea into reality requires projects and some form of project management. Unfortunately, innovation projects may not be able to be managed using the traditional project management philosophy we teach in our project management courses. Innovation varies from industry to industry and even companies within the same industry cannot come to an agreement on how innovation management should work. This is the reason why project management and innovation are often not discussed in the same sentence.

Some of the challenges facing innovation project managers include:

  • Inability to predict exactly when an innovation will occur
  • Inability to identify what the cost of innovation will be
  • Inability to predict how the enterprise environmental factors will change over the life of the project
  • Working with just an idea or goal rather than a formal statement of work
  • Working with strategic/business objectives rather than operational/traditional objectives
  • Inability to predict changes in consumer tastes, needs and behaviors
  • Inability to deal with extremely high levels of risk, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity and variability
  • Having to use a new flexible methodology or framework based upon investment life cycle phases rather than traditional waterfall life cycle phases
  • A focus on metrics related to business benefits and value rather than the traditional time, cost and scope metrics

There are many more challenges that could have been included in this list, but it does show that what we traditionally teach as competencies in our project management courses must be revised when considering innovation projects.

Competencies are the roles, knowledge, skills, personal characteristics and attributes that someone must have to fulfill a position. Most companies, especially large firms, have operational core competencies used by PMs when managing traditional projects that are burdened with formal procedures that often make it difficult to react quickly to take advantage of opportunities that can lead to a sustainable competitive advantage. These companies are generally risk averse and perform as market followers rather than leaders.

If a company wants an entrepreneurial environment, then there must exist some degree of autonomy and flexibility in the operational core competencies that impact innovation activities for both product and process improvements. Typical core competencies for an entrepreneurial environment include:

  • Inventiveness
  • Understanding business strategy
  • Understanding value propositions
  • Having a business orientation
  • Having knowledge about markets and customer behavior
  • Working with high degrees of risk, uncertainty and complexity
  • Managing diverse cross-functional teams
  • Team building skills
  • Coordination and control over activities
  • Design thinking
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Brainstorming
  • Rapid prototype development
  • Innovation leadership

Some of these competencies may apply to both innovation and traditional projects. Competencies can vary from company to company in the way that the characteristics of the competencies are integrated together and the relationship to the firm’s business model. Competencies are also dependent on the type of projects and corporate leadership.

Unlike traditional leadership, innovation leadership must include allowing for autonomy accompanied by the acceptance and support of risky ventures often in reaction to technological changes in the marketplace. Autonomy is usually measured by the speed by which the firm’s cross-functional activities are integrated to take advantage of opportunities for delivering innovative products. For entrepreneurship to work, there must be a corporate culture that supports risk-taking and experimentation without fear of reprisal if the results are not what was expected.

The success of an innovation corporate culture is measured by:

  • The number of new products created
  • The number of new products created that were first to market
  • The speed by which commercialization took place

If continuous and sustainable innovation is to occur, then innovation leadership and traditional project management must be married together and with a clear understanding of each other’s roles. Innovation defines what we would like to do, and project management determines if it can be done. The marriage also may require that both parties learn new skills and create a corporate culture that supports idea management practices.

Understanding each other’s roles is the first step in making a company more innovative. This requires that the project managers and other innovation personnel understand what they do not do now but must do for long-term successful innovation. This also includes understanding the interfacing with marketing personnel and customers.

Innovation project management is now a strategic competency necessary for the growth, and possibly survival, of the firm. Properly trained innovation project managers can be expected to make presentations to those people that reside on the top floor of the building as well as members of the board of directors.

The Innovation Project Management book was written with the intent of providing project personnel with the additional competencies needed to manage innovation projects. The book also discusses the corporate governance needed to create the appropriate culture for innovation to occur.

Get your copy today! Use code KERZNERBLOG for $20 off. Order on the IIL website.

The book is broken down as follows:

  • Chapter 1: Discusses why innovation and project management are often not discussed together and some of the links that are needed to bridge innovation, project management and business strategy.
  • Chapter 2: Discusses the different types of innovation. This is essential because each type of innovation may require a different form of project management.
  • Chapter 3: Discusses how business strategy may determine the type of innovation required and links together project management with the different types of innovation.
  • Chapter 4: Discusses the new tools that traditional project managers need to learn in order to manage innovation projects. Many of these tools are not discussed in traditional project management programs.
  • Chapter 5: Discusses why some of the processes used in traditional project management activities may not work within innovation projects without some degree of modification.
  • Chapter 6: Discusses the growth in innovation management software that project managers are now using in the front end of projects for idea management, alternative analyses and decision making.
  • Chapter 7: Discusses the new metrics, such as benefits realization and value metrics, that project managers and innovation personnel are using for the monitoring and controlling of innovation projects.
  • Chapter 8: Discusses innovations related to business models rather than products and services.
  • Chapter 9: Discussed how disruptive innovation requirements may need a completely new form of project management and the need to interface closely with the consumer marketplace.
  • Chapter 10: Discusses the roadblocks affecting the working relationship between project management and innovation.
  • Chapter 11: Discusses how some projects, including innovation activities, have degrees of success and failure rather than complete success and failure as defined by the triple constraints.
  • Chapter 12: Discusses the innovation culture that several companies have developed as well as the functional units they created to support innovation creation.
  • Chapter 13: Case studies that discuss issues with innovation.

About the Author
Harold Kerzner is Senior Executive Director with International Institute for Learning (IIL). He has an MS and Ph.D. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Utah State University. He is a prior Air Force Officer and spent several years at Morton-Thiokol in project management. He taught engineering at the University of Illinois and business administration at Utah State University, and for 38 years taught project management at Baldwin-Wallace University.

He has published or presented numerous engineering and business papers in addition to more than 80 college textbooks/workbooks on project management, including later editions. His latest book is Innovation Project Management: Methods, Case Studies and Tools for Managing Innovation Projects (Wiley, 2019).

Contact IIL to find out how we can support your individual, team, or organizational Learning & Development needs in 2020 and beyond. Email learning@iil.com, call +1-212-758-0177 or request a free consultation on our website.

PMBOK is a  registered mark of Project Management Institute, Inc.


Dr. Harold Kerzner's Project Management Predictions for 2020

By Harold Kerzner, Ph.D. | Senior Executive Director, International Institute for Learning (IIL)

The landscape for project management changes almost every year. Some changes are relatively small or incremental, whereas other changes can be significant. Major changes to project management will occur in 2020 due to much of the new material that the Project Management Institute (PMI) has published and will be testing on in the new version of the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam beginning in June 2020.

Most of the critical changes that I see happening in 2020 can be clustered into the six pillars of project management. These six pillars could very well change the face of project management for at least a decade rather than just for 2020.

Pillar #1: Project managers will be expected to manage strategic projects rather than just traditional or operational projects.

For several decades, project managers were only responsible for traditional or operational projects that:

  • Had a well-defined statement of work
  • Used the traditional “waterfall” methodology that was often based upon a one-size-fits-all approach
  • Relied upon earned value status reporting that focused mainly upon the time, cost and scope constraints

Strategic projects were assigned to functional managers whom executives trusted more than project managers. Functional managers were permitted to use whatever approaches they believed would work on their projects, and often without any of the processes, tools or techniques used in traditional project management practices.

Today, more and more companies believe that they are managing their business as though it is a series of projects. As executives begin to recognize the benefits of utilizing effective project management practices, and more trust is placed in the hands of the project managers, project managers are being asked to manage strategic projects as well as traditional or operational projects.

But as will be seen in some of the pillars that follow, many new techniques are accompanied by significant changes in the way that work is executed, e.g. new methodologies, new status reporting processes and new tools and techniques. Strategic projects (such as those involving innovation, R&D and entrepreneurship) may require different skills, a greater understanding of risk management (especially business risk management), and the use business metrics in addition to the traditional time, cost and scope metrics.

Pillar #2: Project management is now recognized as a strategic competency rather than just another career path position.

In Pillar #1, it was stated that project managers are now managing strategic as well as operational or traditional projects. Executive management now appears to recognize and appreciate the contributions that the PMs are making to the growth of the business.

Many companies will conduct a study every year or two to identify the four or five strategic career paths that must be cultivated in the company so that the growth of the firm is sustainable. Project management makes the short list of these four or five career path slots. As such, project management is now treated as a “strategic competency” rather just another career path position for the workers.

How do we know this? Partly, by considering the fact that many project managers now present and report project status to senior management. Historically, PMs conducted briefings for the project sponsors, and only occasionally for senior management. Now, with the responsibility to manage strategic projects that may impact the future of the firm, project managers may be conducting briefings for all senior management and even the board of directors.

Pillar #3: There will be a significant change in the skill set that some project managers may need.

When there exists some commonality among the projects in a firm such that a one-size-fits-all approach can be used during project execution, the skill set for the project managers may be known with some degree of certainty. But referring to Pillar #1, where project managers are now responsible for managing strategic projects, new skills may be necessary.

Strategic projects will vary from company to company, and even in the same company there can be a multitude of different types of strategic projects included in innovation, R&D, entrepreneurship and new product development. The skills needed can vary based upon the type of strategic project. As an example, different skills may be needed whether we are discussing innovation projects that are radical rather than incremental. Some of the new skills needed for strategic projects include design thinking, rapid prototype development, crowdstorming, market research, brainstorming and change management. For project managers involved in multinational strategic projects, the list of skills might also include an understanding of local cultures, religions and politics.

Pillar #4: There will be a significant change in how we define the success (and failure) of a project.

For years, the definition of project success was the creation of project deliverables within the constraints of time, cost and scope. While this definition seemed relatively easy to use, it created several headaches:

First, companies can always create deliverables within time, cost and scope, but there is no guarantee that customers would purchase the end results. Second, everyone seemed to agree that there should be a “business” component to project success, but they were unable to identify how to do it because of the lack of project-related business metrics. Third, this definition of project success was restricted to traditional or operational projects. Functional managers that were responsible for strategic projects were utilizing their own definitions of project success, and many of these strategic projects were being executed under the radar screen because of the competition in the company for funding for strategic projects.

Today, companies believe they are managing their business as a stream of projects, including both strategic and traditional projects. As such, there must exist a definition that satisfies all types of projects. The three components of success today are:

  • The project must provide or at least identify business benefits
  • The project’s benefits must be harvested such that they can be converted into sustainable business value that can be expressed quantitatively
  • The project must be aligned to strategic business objectives

With these three components as part of the project’s success criteria, companies must ask themselves when creating a portfolio of strategic projects, “Why expend resources and work on this project if the intent is not to create sustainable business value?” These three components can also be used to create failure criteria as to when to pull the plug and stop working on a project. Since these three components are discussed in current PMI literature, it is expected that these three components will appear in the new version of the PMP® exam, beginning in June 2020.

Pillar #5: There will be a significant growth in the number of metrics, especially business-related metrics, to be used on projects.

The four pillars discussed previously made it clear that the business side of projects will need to be understood much better than in the past. This will require significantly more metrics than just time, cost and scope.

Companies will need to create metrics that can track benefits realization, value created from the benefits and how each project is aligned to strategic business objectives. To do this may require the creation of 20-30 new metrics. This will undoubtedly lead to major changes in the earned value measurement systems (EVMS) currently being used.

The new project business metrics must be able to be combined to answer questions that executives have concerning business and portfolio health. The list below identifies metrics that executives need for business decision-making and strategic planning.

  • Business profitability
  • Portfolio health
  • Portfolio benefits realization
  • Portfolio value achieved
  • Portfolio mix of projects
  • Resource availability
  • Capacity utilization
  • Strategic alignment of projects
  • Overall business performance

Exhibit 1 shows typical categories of metrics and that new versions of project management (i.e. PM 1.0 – PM 5.0) may appear in the literature. The growth in metrics is due to the growth in measurement techniques. Today, we believe that we can measure anything.

Exhibit 1. Growth in Metrics

Pillar #6: There will be a growth in flexible project management frameworks or methodologies that are capable of measuring benefits and business value as the project progresses and after the deliverables have been created.

The traditional “waterfall” approach to project management implementation has successfully been used for years, but this approach has the limitation that value is measurable primarily at the end of the project. Companies want to have value and benefits metrics reported throughout the project so that they can cancel or redirect non-performing projects.

Techniques such as Agile and Scrum appear to do a better job of measuring and reporting value created through the project, than other approaches. In the future, we can expect more flexible project management approaches such as Agile and Scrum to appear.

Conclusions:

It is unrealistic to think that these six pillars will be the only changes that will occur in 2020. There will be other changes, but perhaps not as significant as these six pillars. The implementation of these six pillars requires that companies try to envision the future and plan for it. For companies that believe in “business as usual” or “let’s leave well enough alone,” these changes will not be implemented. Those companies that believe in “doing things the same old way” will most likely struggle to stay in existence.

Contact IIL to find out how we can support your individual, team, or organizational Learning & Development needs in 2020 and beyond. Email learning@iil.com, call +1-212-758-0177 or request a free consultation on our website.

About the Author
Harold Kerzner is Senior Executive Director with International Institute for Learning (IIL). He has an MS and Ph.D. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Utah State University. He is a prior Air Force Officer and spent several years at Morton-Thiokol in project management. He taught engineering at the University of Illinois and business administration at Utah State University, and for 38 years taught project management at Baldwin-Wallace University.

He has published or presented numerous engineering and business papers in addition to more than 80 college textbooks/workbooks on project management, including later editions. His latest book is Innovation Project Management: Methods, Case Studies and Tools for Managing Innovation Projects (Wiley, 2019).

 

Project Management Professional and PMP are registered marks of Project Management Institute, Inc.


People Innovation: A New Vision to Innovate

By Luigi Morsa, Ph.D. 

Nowadays, companies are very conscious that if they want to be competitive, they have to innovate. The conquered market shares can rapidly disappear or drastically be reduced. The only way is to keep pace, to be reactive and introduce new solutions, ideally before their competitors. It is worth quoting a sentence of the father of the Open Innovation concept, Henry Chesbrough: “Most innovation fails. And companies that don’t innovate die” [1].

In the complex companies’ world, as is well-known to the experts (contrary to what is broadly thought), innovation is not only linked to a new product; the innovation can be also relative to a new process, a new company asset, a new procedure, or a new business model. In a nutshell, we can agree that innovation is all about bringing improvement and efficiency; and affecting the development of a company in a positive manner.

It is also true that there are innovations with different importance, namely there exist innovations with different impacts on a company and on a market; for instance, the strongest innovations are the ones able to replace an existing market or create a new one. This leads to the fascinating economic concepts of “Creative Destruction Innovation” by Joseph Schumpeter in 1942 [2] and “Disruptive Technologies” by Joseph Bower and Clayton Christensen in 1995 [3].

On the other hand, a less important innovation does not really affect the old scenario but brings some benefit to the company. It is clear that a company has to focus on innovations at each level. In order to efficiently pursue this task, companies have adopted several tools, procedures and strategies that help the birth of new ideas – in addition to adopting the classical Research and Development department (especially if we are speaking about product innovation).

The ideas are clearly generated by people and therefore the companies realized that a secret to obtain as many new ideas as possible is to create the “ideal condition” to allow people to bring their contribution. One interesting way to accomplish the task is represented by the so-called “Innovation Management Software (IMS)”. This has been developing during the last two decades and it can be seen as the last evolution of the “suggestion box”, introduced more than 100 years ago and still present in some offices.

The Innovation software programs are usually conceived in a way that there is a common platform where all the users (basically employees of the company) have access and can freely leave their proposals or opinions about a possible new idea. Then, each new proposal generates an online debate or discussion with the effect to improve it. Once a certain number of ideas is reached, the selection phase starts. This is conducted by innovation project managers with the support of sector experts and business unit people. Their intent is to evaluate the feasibility from a technical and business point of view, respectively. Finally, this committee selects the ideas which are worthy of an investment [4].

In most cases, even though the IMS is very fascinating, a good percentage of employees are reluctant to contribute their ideas to the company. Possible reasons may be because they have not developed a sense of belonging, they simply do not believe in the company, or they think that an idea given to the company is a kind of gift without a sure repayment. In order to avoid such inefficiencies, the latest tools like IMS should be supported by an additional software that we could baptize “People Innovation (PI)”. The purpose of this article is not to give a detailed description about the software concept, but to discuss the main guidelines and benefits.

The starting point is the slight change in the philosophical approach between the IMS and People Innovation (PI). We can say that the innovation management software is based on the assumption that the main heritage of a company that wants to innovate lies on the ideas of the people of the company; therefore, the software “simply” helps the development of ideas. In the case of PI, the basis goes beyond: the main heritage of a company to innovate lies on the people of the company; therefore, the software helps people to innovate themselves and, consequently, also the company.

If the company believes in the employees, the employees feel more motivated to give their contribution to the company and, finally, to innovate.

The weak side of the IMS is, on one hand, it favors peoples’ connections and discussions to help generate ideas. On the other hand, it does not care about how an employee can develop himself or herself during this time. How can a sense of belonging or the desire to participate in the innovation process of a company be generated in employees? The answer is the following: through the idea that a company wants to take care of its employees, wants to bet on them, wants to donate a future vision and want to define professional development for them.

We can imagine that the PI software could have a special section where all the employees’ profiles are stored and for each of them, the possible career paths are shown, the courses needed to achieve some results are advised, as well as how their innovative ideas can be supported or promoted. 

The other important aspect is, who are the players that ensure PI works properly? In this regard, we are talking about people in Human Resources, the project innovation managers and the line managers. All these players have to have access to the PI shell, and they have to help employees in their development in the company. In general, HR could monitor if an employee is satisfied and understand all of his/her needs, the line manager could define what can be done for their professional development and the project innovation manager could stay alert in case of new potential ideas.

The software could definitely be a powerful tool to motivate employees. One of the biggest challenges in organizational management is how to provide recognition (and possibly rewards) to workers that make a significant contribution to the business. There are two critical issues with recognition systems.

  • First, not all employees are in a position where their performance can be directly related to business success. This can alienate workers who believe they are missing out on these opportunities because of their current work assignment or position.
  • Second, the company must decide if the recognition will be done monetarily or non-monetarily. Believe it or not, having a diagram with the visible professional development, with the past achievements and above all with the future targets for an employee is priceless. People could believe that regular meetings with HR and managers of various kinds are enough, but they are not. Software is needed since it is important to have a visible, professional situation and clear prospects.

In conclusion, we observe that PI’s purpose is not to replace traditional innovation software management. On the contrary, PI actually completes the IMS by enlarging potential. The IMS encourages cooperation for the development of an idea, creates the useful connections and improves the concepts promoting discussions. PI accompanies and drives the employees during their stay in the company in order to find out the best way to be motivated and to better express themselves, and it creates more suitable conditions to generate ideas. It is something that a company (devout to innovation) should have and develop according to its needs.

About the Author
Luigi Morsa (Ph.D.) is an Aerospace Engineer and Project Manager working in Germany at the consultant company SII engineering & IT. Luigi’s passion for project management has led him to contribute to two books by Dr. Harold Kerzner, the pioneer and globally recognized expert in project management. More in detail, Luigi wrote the case study “The Airbus A380” and the chapter on “Innovation Management Software” for the books Project Management Case Studies, Fifth Edition (Wiley, 2017) and Innovation Project Management (Wiley, 2019), respectively. In 2018, he was a speaker at the Project Management Institute (PMI)® EMEA Congress to discuss the complexity of the aircraft-industry market, with particular emphasis on the relationship between the product and customer needs.


References: 

[1]. Henry W. Chesbrough, “Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology”, Harvard Business School Press, 2003.

[2]. Joseph A. Schumpeter, “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy”, Harper & Brothers, 1942.

[3]. Joseph L. Bower and Clayton M. Christensen, “Disruptive technologies: catching the wave”, Harvard Business Review, 1995.

[4]. Harold Kerzner, “Innovation Project Management”, John Wiley & Sons, 2019.


Key Themes at IPM Day 2019

By J. LeRoy Ward, IIL Executive VP of Enterprise Solutions and Sander Boeije, Program Manager – IIL Online Conferences 

On November 7, 2019, IIL will celebrate the 16th anniversary of International Project Management Day, also known as IPM Day. Initially conceived by Frank P. Saladis, and made possible by IIL, this important day recognizes the incredible and valuable work that project managers do every day. IIL’s IPM Day event is one of the project management industry’s largest and most popular online conferences. It brings together the best minds in the business to speak on today’s most relevant and pressing topics. This year is no different.

In this article, we outline the key themes that emerge at IIL’s IPM Day 2019. So, let’s dive right in.

Benefits and Value

As project managers, we need to “Focus on What Matters.” There is a reason that this statement is the theme of IPM Day 2019. Today, projects take up an incredibly important role within a business and, as discussed by Sunil Prashara, President and CEO of Project Management Institute (PMI), this will only increase as we further evolve into the Project Economy. Therefore, project managers not only need to deliver the project, but they also need to ensure that the project achieves its intended business benefits. The need for project managers to focus on Benefits and Value is an overriding theme at IPM Day 2019.

This will be discussed in the keynote sessions by Dr. Harold Kerzner, Kasia Grzybowska and J. LeRoy Ward. It is also a recurring topic in many other presentations as well.

Agile Project Management

In the past decade, Agile has finally established is rightful place in Project Management. One example of this is PMI’s acquisition of Disciplined Agile and FLEX. Yet, there are still many questions to be answered regarding its application on various projects. For example, how do you manage risk on an agile project? How could an Agile PMO function and does that even make sense in the first place? And what about leadership in an agile organization, how does that work exactly?

Experts including Roy Schilling, Rubin Jen, and Mayo Clinic’s Wale Elegbede, as well as our other speakers, provide you with the answers to these questions and more.

Digitalization

As Industry 4.0 continues to take shape and impact many organizations, we see an exponential increase in complexity, data, digital solutions, and more. How can we make sense of all the information and technology that is available to us, make the right decisions, and successfully manage our projects?

Thought leaders such as Microsoft’s Melissa Bader, Laila Faridoon, Leon Herszon, Carla Fair-Wright, and many others will help you navigate the digital world.

Change Leadership

Today’s business landscape changes fast. At the same time that companies are going through a number of major transformations (think Agile and Digitalization), mergers and acquisitions, and other game-changing scenarios, it seems the world uncovers one disruptive innovation after another. Businesses need strong leadership to stay relevant and prosperous moving into the future. This requires companies to be adaptive and always in a position to redefine their course.

Watch the sessions by Ben Chodor, Heidi Helfand, Jennifer Hurst, and Jimmy Godard to learn about how you can prepare yourself, your team, and your organization for unavoidable and constant disruptive change.

Soft Skills become Power Skills

Soft skills, as important as they are, will become even more so. In fact, some experts have redefined the concept of soft skills, preferring to label them “Power Skills.” Although we’re not sure who deserves the credit for coining this term, it is becoming more and more obvious that it is soft skills that make project managers successful. Accordingly, organizations need to focus on developing competencies in such areas as empathy, influencing others and grit.

Don’t miss the sessions with PMI’s Sunil Prashara, Diane Hamilton, Sean Hearne, and Ulli Munroe who all discuss key Power Skills for the Project Manager.

Still need to register for IPM Day? Sign up here.


J. LeRoy Ward (PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CSM, CSPO) is IIL’s Executive Vice President of Enterprise Solutions and a recognized thought leader, consultant and adviser in project, program and portfolio management. With more than 39 years of experience in the field, his insights, perspectives and advice have been sought by hundreds of companies and government agencies around the world.


Developing Your Benefits Realization Plan

By J. LeRoy Ward | Executive Vice President of Enterprise Solutions, IIL 

Is it possible to deliver a project on time, on budget, and to scope and still have an unsuccessful project?

Now more than ever, the answer is yes – because today’s projects are all about benefits and value.

A benefit is an outcome or a result from actions, behaviors, products or services that are important or advantageous to specific individuals or groups, such as stakeholders. The value of the project is what the benefits are worth to someone, typically in monetary terms. And managing those benefits, meaning making sure they’re delivered, is called benefits realization management.

The Benefits Realization Plan (BRP) is an instrumental part of benefits realization management. What’s that and what does it include? Let’s take a look.

The Business Realization Plan (BRP):

  • Documents all the activities the team is going to complete to achieve the planned benefits
  • Provides a timeline for when the benefits are going to be delivered, and outlines who’s responsible for getting the job done
  • Most importantly, it describes how those benefits are going to be sustained over the long run

Some suggested topics you should include in the plan:

  • The purpose of the project
  • The benefits to be delivered
  • How each benefit will be measured
  • Roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders
  • The schedule for delivering the benefits
  • Any changes to systems and processes
  • How the benefits will be transitioned and sustained by the organization

Right about now you might be thinking, isn’t project management loaded with enough plans? Do I really have to prepare yet another plan?

The answer is yes, but the good news is, it doesn’t have to be as bureaucratic or time-consuming as it sounds.

To give you a head start, here are my five tips for developing the BRP.

Tip No. 1
Use the business case as a point of departure. It contains a lot of useful information about the need and justification for the project.

Tip No. 2
Interview your key stakeholders. Make sure you understand what they’re expecting when the project is done. After all, they’re the folks who decide whether the project was successful or not.

Tip No. 3
Gather as many good ideas and suggestions as you can about the whole benefits process by tapping into the minds of your stakeholders using techniques like brainstorming sessions, focus groups, and other approaches. People want to help and be engaged. Give them every opportunity to do so.

Tip No. 4
Do everything humanly, and inhumanly, possible to get the sponsor involved. PMI research shows that an actively engaged sponsor is the top driver of project success.

Tip No. 5
Make sure you put the benefits in writing and get the appropriate people to approve them. It’s not YOUR project, it’s THEIR Project; it’s their benefits.

I’ll be further exploring this topic (and sharing more tips!) in my IPM Day keynote, “The New Normal in Project Management: It’s All About the Benefits.”  I hope you’ll join me.

The IPM Day 2019 Online Conference opens Thursday, November 7.

Register Here >>

About the Author
J. LeRoy Ward (PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CSM, CSPO) is IIL’s Executive Vice President of Enterprise Solutions and a recognized thought leader, consultant and adviser in project, program and portfolio management. With more than 39 years of experience in the field, his insights, perspectives and advice have been sought by hundreds of companies and government agencies around the world.


The PMP® Exam is Changing: Here’s What You Need to Know

 

Please note that the launch of the new PMP Exam has been delayed until June 30, 2020

 

By J. LeRoy Ward | Executive Vice President of Enterprise Solutions, IIL 

In June 2019, the Project Management Institute (PMI)® announced that significant changes are coming to the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam. In this post, I will provide important information about the new PMP® Exam and answer the following questions:

  1. When is the PMP Exam changing?
  2. Why is the PMP Exam changing?
  3. What is changing in the new PMP Exam?
  4. How do I prepare for the new PMP Exam?

Having been active in PMP Exam prep for many years, the first question almost everyone has when they hear about PMP Exam changes is WHEN? So, let’s start with that one.

When is the PMP Exam changing?

The new PMP Exam will make its debut on December 16, 2019.

The last day to sit for the current version of the PMP Exam is December 15, 2019.

There is no overlapping period of time when both versions of the exam will be available. The current version is available through December 15th and the new version starts December 16th.

So, if you have already started preparing for the current exam, my suggestion is to complete and file your PMP application ASAP. Remember, if you file online (and most folks do), PMI® has five calendar days to review your application and notify you if you’re eligible to sit for the exam. The five days is moot if you’re selected for an audit (you have a very low chance of that happening).

By submitting your application ASAP and being notified that you’re eligible to sit for the exam, you will be able to immediately contact the Pearson VUE testing center of your choice and (hopefully) select the date and time when you prefer to take the exam.

Be advised that whenever the PMP Exam changes, there’s always a mad rush to take it which can cause problems securing the center, date and time you want. In any given month, there are roughly three thousand folks earning the PMP credential. In the months leading up to a change, that number can be much larger because people want to take the exam before it changes, AND SO DO YOU! Don’t delay — apply and sit for the exam ASAP.

Now that we know when it’s changing, let’s see why.

Why is the PMP Exam changing?

Many folks ask, why does PMI have to change the exam? Can’t they leave well-enough alone? The answer is it has to be changed because PMI has published a new PMP Examination Content Outline[i] (the “Outline”).

What’s the reason for the new outline? Well, PMI’s professional certification examination development process is accredited against the internationally recognized ISO 1704[ii] Standard, as well as other industry best practices. A key component of these standards is that PMI is directed to use a Role Delineation Study (RDS) as the basis for the creation of the examination. Basically, PMI identified, through a wide range of surveys, the knowledge, tasks and skills required to perform to the industry-wide standard in the role of project manager. That content is contained in the Outline which is used as a basis for, and validates the outcome of, the PMP Exam. Each question on the PMP Exam is tracked to at least two academic references (which PMI does not reveal) and to the Outline. This is why it is such an important document.

The current Outline[iii], published in June 2015, includes the five domains of Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing. PMI also identified forty-two tasks across all five domains that competent project managers perform. The Outline also provides a “blueprint” for the exam in that it identifies the percentage of questions in each domain that will appear on the PMP Exam. The June 2015 version is the one tested on the PMP Exam through December 15, 2019.

PMI updates the Outline every four to six years to determine what has changed in the world of work for project managers. After all, in this world of ours, things can change, and change rapidly, and project management is no different.

As a result of redoing the RDS, PMI identified significant changes and trends in our profession that are not addressed in the current PMP Exam. So, in order to ensure that the PMP credential remains relevant, accurate, and current, PMI had to make changes to the Outline, and many of these changes have notable differences with A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition.

You see, the volunteer taskforce involved with the Outline were not bound by the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition. This taskforce was charged with outlining critical job tasks of individuals who lead and direct projects based on their experience; information which can go beyond that which is covered in the PMBOK® Guide. Based on their work, the taskforce identified three domains and thirty-five tasks that competent project managers are performing today. It is the June 2019 version of the Outline that will be tested on the PMP Exam starting on December 16, 2019.

Now that we know the when and the why, let’s look at what is changing in the PMP Exam.

What is changing in the new PMP Exam?

The new PMP Exam will focus on the three NEW domains of People, Process, and Business Environment.

People: This domain is all about leading a team, including supporting, empowering, training, and building a team. Managing conflict and collaborating with stakeholders are also important components of this domain.

Process: Just think of the ten knowledge areas in the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition. That’s what this domain covers, as well as a few other topics.

Business Environment: Covering the link between projects and organizational strategy, this domain also includes compliance and organizational change management.

Below is the blueprint for the new PMP Exam that starts on December 16, 2019.

new pmp exam blueprint

But changing from five domains and forty-two tasks to three domains and thirty-five tasks represent only one aspect of the change. The new Outline also says about half of the examination will represent predictive project management approaches and the other half will represent agile or hybrid approaches.”[iv] You read that correctly: half the exam, 50% of the questions, will be on agile and hybrid approaches!

This is a major change not just to the PMP Exam, but to the PMP credential itself. PMI is making a major bet that agile is not just here to stay; it represents a significant shift in the way projects are, or should be, managed. And in order to earn the PMP credential, PMP candidates are expected to know all about agile.

But does a PMP candidate need to have experience using agile, as well? After all, the questions on the current PMP Exam are written such that one needs to have experience in managing projects to answer many, if not most, of them correctly according to PMI. If the PMP Exam is changing, will the PMP application change as well?

Here’s what PMI writes on its website:

“The PMP application will also change in December, but if you submit your application before then, please continue using the current application. We’ll share more information here as it becomes available.”

[v]

As of today, we will just have to wait and see how PMI will change the eligibility requirements for the new PMP Exam. Visit PMI’s website regularly to monitor any and all changes.

How to prepare for the new PMP Exam

As I recommend above, if you can sit for the current PMP Exam, do it. In this business, the known is always better than the unknown. However, if you can’t sit for the current exam, don’t worry. You simply have to develop an effective approach to learn the material you need to know to pass the exam.

If you’re a “do-it-yourself” kind of person, you need to obtain and study a minimum of three publications. They are:

  1. The new PMP Exam Content Outline
  2. The PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition
  3. The Agile Practice Guide

(You will receive the Agile Practice Guide when you purchase the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition.) You can also supplement your reading with online practice exams and other publications which you can find through a simple online search.

But if you’d like help using a more structured approach, which is what I’ve recommended for many years, we at IIL have developed a PMP Certification Prep course that will help get you ready. We offer this course in three modalities: instructor-led, virtual classroom, and on-demand (video based). The course includes:

  • 35 hours of education (required for the PMP application)
  • PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition and the Agile Practice Guide[vi]
  • Access to IIL’s Project Management IQ (1,000 PMP Exam practice questions)
  • IIL’s PMP Certification Prep course workbook
  • Access to IIL’s on-demand Agile and Hybrid Foundation course
  • Supplemental readings and reference materials

Regardless of your study approach, we stand ready to assist in helping you prepare for, and successfully pass, the PMP Exam.

Let us know how we can help. Email us at learning@iil.com or visit our website at www.iil.com.

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

About the Author
J. LeRoy Ward (PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CSM, CSPO) is IIL’s Executive Vice President of Enterprise Solutions and a recognized thought leader, consultant and adviser in project, program and portfolio management. With more than 39 years of experience in the field, his insights, perspectives and advice have been sought by hundreds of companies and government agencies around the world.

 


[i] Project Management Professional (PMP)® Examination Content Outline, Project Management Institute, June 2019

[ii] ISO 17024: Conformity Assessment-General Requirements for Bodies Operating Certification of Persons.

[iii] Project Management Professional (PMP)® Examination Content Outline, Project Management Institute, June 2015

[iv] Project Management Professional (PMP)®< Examination Content Outline, Project Management Institute, June 2019, p. 2


Agile for Traditional Projects

By Susan Parente | Risk Management Guru – Agile Generalist – Instructor and Consultant, IIL

“Can Agile practices be incorporated with traditional project management?” This is a very common question today, and the answer is yes!

In this blog, I’ll cover two great Agile practices that teams have found to be valuable to incorporate on traditional projects, and which may help your team make the shift from traditional to Agile project management: A Daily Stand-up meeting and a Kanban board.

The daily stand-up meeting

The daily stand-up is used in Scrum, one of the most popular frameworks for implementing Agile. In this meeting, the project team members answer the following three questions:

  1. “What have I completed since yesterday that supports the iteration goal?”
  2. “What do I plan to complete today to support the iteration goal?”
  3. And lastly, “What are the barriers or impediments that are getting in my way in completing the work I have to do to support the iteration goal?”

This truly is a stand-up meeting, where all participants are standing. The meeting is time-boxed which means that it must end at the allocated time, generally 15 minutes. This forces people to prioritize what they talk about and to make sure they are efficient with the use of meeting time. (If you decide to have a daily stand-up meeting and let it run over 15 minutes, you’re not actually doing the practice of a daily stand-up, as it is a time-boxed event).

What you will likely find is in the first few daily stand-up meetings, not everyone will have an opportunity to speak; however, after a few meetings, people will figure out how to be succinct so that everyone has an opportunity to speak. It’s important for the Project Manager (PM), team lead, or facilitator in a traditional project to allow the team to work through this, as it is a part of the process of team development.

It is also important for the PM to take the lead and provide meeting support, but only to remind team members to focus on the three questions they need to answer (as noted above) and remind them if they’re getting off-topic with doing so.

Keep in mind that the purpose of the daily stand-up meeting is for the team to provide status to all team members, not to report to the project manager or the customer. Of course, it is valuable for the project manager to attend this meeting as the team facilitator; however, their role is more focused on listening and enforcing process than leading the team.

The Kanban board

A project Kanban board, or task board, is used by agile team members to work through project tasks. The project sponsor need not know that you are using an Agile method, and neither do your team members. In some organizations, it can be worrisome to customers and team members to use ‘Agile’ if they don’t know much about it. It can be an intimidating change. Using the Kanban board has been very effective for teams that I have coached or led because the teams had multiple tasks that changed every week. It is an easier way to manage these tasks and to make sure they get completed in a prioritized order while being able to track who is working on which tasks.

As designed, a Kanban board minimizes the project work-in-process and allows the team to complete all of the project work, not knowing necessarily how long each task would take. As each task is completed, the team member who completed it updates the board and assigns themselves to the next prioritized task.

Other Agile practices that teams have found to be valuable to incorporate for traditional projects include:

  • Information radiators
  • War rooms (collocation of the team)
  • Team retrospectives
  • Burndown charts
  • Relative sizing/estimating
  • And others

What is nice about incorporating Agile practices while doing traditional project management is that you may receive some benefit from using these practices while your organization may not be ready for an Agile project management approach. As a PM, you probably have some authority as to how your development team works and are able to use some of these tools even without agreement from senior management, or from your customer.

By incorporating Agile practices into traditional project management, you can reap the benefits of these practices and also, in the meantime, educate your team and your customer on Agile practices so they are more comfortable with using them. 

Related Courses from IIL:

Courses can be tailored to meet your organization’s needs. Request a free consultation

 

Susan Parente (PMP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP, PSM I, CSM, CSPO, CISSP, CRISC, RESILIA, ITIL, MS Eng. Mgmt.) is an instructor and consultant at IIL, an Adjunct Professor at the University of Virginia, Post University (CT), and Montclair State University (NJ). She is an author, mentor and teacher focused on risk management, traditional and Agile project management. Her experience is augmented by her Masters in Engineering Management with a focus in Marketing of Technology, from George Washington University (DC), along with a number of professional certifications. Ms. Parente has 18+ years’ experience leading software and business development projects in the private and public sectors, including a decade of experience implementing IT projects for the DoD.


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.