White Paper on Proactive Process Management & Application of Lesson Learnt Page 1
Proactive Process Management &
Application of Lesson Learnt: Key Drivers
of Effective Project Management
Jayanto Bose is Program Lead in IBM GTS Division
Prashant Shrivastava is Senior Project Manager in IBM GTS Division
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In IT infrastructure project management; schedule is one of the key constraints for Project Manager
which has very high importance in the eyes of customer.
Statistics will reveal that over a large number of IT projects are not finished on time, go beyond schedule
and are delayed. There are plethora of reasons why projects are delayed and plenty of articles
explaining what to look for and how to try and prevent these issues. Bad planning, poor estimations,
scope creep, lack of cooperation, bad luck, lack of resources, changing resources, all of these can affect
the timing of your project.
In project management term Critical path project management (CPM) is a technique used to complete
projects on time by focusing on key tasks. In any project, there is one path through all the inter-
connected tasks that is the longest. This is the critical path. By focusing on the tasks that make up the
critical path the project manager maximizes the chances of completing the project on time.
Creating the critical path involves identifying all of the tasks necessary to complete the project and
determining which tasks control the completion of the project. The company creates the critical path by
detailing each task required and identifying which ones rely on the completion of other tasks. For
example, when baking a cake, the chef needs to bake the batter before applying frosting. The critical
path consists of the series of tasks that take the longest to complete, and thus sets the maximum length
of time required to complete the project.
The company creates the project schedule by assigning each task to a specific employee. Each task
includes a deadline that must be met in order for the next dependent task to begin. Each employee
maintains responsibility for managing the task assigned to him and ensuring that it is finished by the
deadline. The employee can enlist the assistance of others, but ultimately he is accountable. Employees
who are assigned tasks on the critical path face higher scrutiny due to the importance of these tasks.
Then we do the Risk Management for each task at Critical Path to ensure either we deliver on time or
we have a mitigation plan to save the schedule of the project.
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After doing the Risk Management for the task at
Critical Path still there are projects which slip on
schedule. Then the questions comes
1. Why the schedule Slip?
2. How can we plan it more Proactively?
Why the schedule Slip?
In delivery of projects we do use lots of project
management practices which includes:
Vendor Management etc..
We ensure most of the things are in place but the area we least concentrate is on the challenge around
the processes. They are very important as they make the deliveries compliant and audit free.
Organizations are living entity and they evolve over time. When we say Organization evolves it means its
process, system everything changes over time and what is required is that these changes should be
towards making processes better and defect free.
On other hand the challenge for projects is that in many cases the PM
1. Does not visit the critical processes evolving
2. Does not check all the processes and activities that are END TO END mapped
Then these processes become the bottle neck and even hamper the schedule of a straight forward or
simple project delivery.
How can we plan it more Proactively?
Two important points which we would like to review and discuss in this paper proactive management of
organization process and ensure that organization processes support timely completion of project
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1. Proactively looking at the existing processes and eliminates the pain areas by “Framework on
Proactive Defect Prevention”.
2. Understanding the importance of lesson learnt and coming up with a readily reference tool for
delivery which captures organization process knowledge, issues & risks around processes called
Framework on Proactive Defect Prevention
Defect in most simple term is defined as a deviation from the requirement of customer. Process defects
act as a roadblock and prevent user to achieve process objective in scheduled time. Very often process
works but the timeframe for completion of a particular objective is more than what is estimated in
As mentioned earlier, organization evolves over time and hence organizational processes. Some change
make organizational process prone to delays. Let us take an example of a procurement request: If a
procurement request for INR 10 Lakhs and procurement request for INR 10,000 take same time then
there might be something wrong in process which treats both scenarios in the same way. This scenario
requires to, set up a different process for small value purchase and large value purchase.
This is process improvement or we can call it defect prevention. Despite the continuous process
improvement in the organization there is always a chance where we can see Non Value adds in the
processes. But if we can take out such Non Value adds or Defects proactively then it becomes easier and
smoother for a PM to deliver his/her project deliverables on time.
Here we are suggesting Proactive framework with detailed methodology and approach for identifying
the defects and pain areas in any IT Infrastructure processes.
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Exhibit 1.0 Framework for Defect Prevention Stage 1
Focuses on end to end process in terms of what are we managing. Who are we managing and
how are we managing. In this we try to understand the following :
o What are the types of the projects we manage like are they commercial or internal.
o What all phases we have during the delivery of the project.
o What are tools we are dependent on..
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Exhibit 2.0 Framework for Defect Prevention Stage 2
Focuses on going to last level (detail process) of existing system and process and take input from
all stakeholders to identify the bottlenecks/ defects in current process. We proactively initiate
survey within the account stakeholders to ensure the processes are known and they are
reviewed at short intervals.
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Exhibit 3.0 Framework for Defect Prevention Stage 3
Ranking of defect on the basis of its impact and occurrence is integral part of proactive DPP
framework and hence ensure that team works on priority defect resolution and gives optimum
benefit to the projects based on budget and time.
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Exhibit 4.0 Framework for Defect Prevention Stage 4
Ensure early identification of defects and subsequent solution before it becomes bottleneck and
hence ensure improved Productivity and high customer satisfaction. We continuously go back
and try to understand the majority of the Project Change Request raised for or try to understand
the processes followed during the projects have any gaps or not.
We had attempted to implement Framework for defect prevention in few of the accounts and currently
pilot is going on. We expect that when this framework will be implemented and used by end users (who
are actual customers also), organizations will be able to remove non value added steps from processes
and in effect helps end users in achieving their objective and hence project objective
Building blocks as the name suggests is all about capturing organization knowledge and experience with
processes and associated risk and issues and how to derive optimum approach to resolve these issues.
Knowledge is best defined as a familiarity with someone or something, which can include facts,
information, descriptions, or skills acquired through experience or education. It can refer to the
theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. It can be implicit (as with practical skill or expertise)
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or explicit (as with the theoretical understanding of a subject); it can be more or less formal or
Lesson Learnt is all about systematic capturing of knowledge which can be reused.
We have often seen that almost every organization has system in place to capture knowledge and
experience gained on completed projects but pertinent questions is does anyone really get benefitted
out of that. Below are some of the often quoted complaints about lesson learnt practice followed in
most of the organizations
It's a pain to go through all the irrelevant lessons to get to the few relevant ones. There should
be better, easier way to find the lessons required for my scenario.
It is wastage of time that I should go through volume of data to find one I required. Let me learn
on my way.
Few things we learn again and again
I doubt that information provided in lesson leant is true, Looks more a formality
Considering above, the characteristic of an efficient Lesson leant system could be
Capture and retrieval of information is easy
Should be database system not just a document based
Allows for lesson to be captured as they occur not just wait till the end of project
In typical fashion, project organizations capture the lesson learnt during project life cycle and that is
mainly focusing on specific issues / risks handled in project etc. What is missing is knowledge about
Though process is same for every project manager but in practical world it is seen that some Project
Managers are more successful than others. They handles risk / issues around the processes in much
better way than others and in turn make sure that project objectives are achieved and it will be
completed within budget and time.
Not only process, it is also noticed that in particular segment say IT Infrastructure, projects also have
common repetitive components. These components are often standard and repeatable in nature. For
IT Infrastructure Projects Oracle E Buss, Implementation
Server Build : Virtual Server Build, Physical
Server Build ……(Minus Content Upload)
Purchase Cycle Implementation
Purchase Requisition / Material Requisition
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Server Decommission Virtual Server, Physical
Network: Firewall Rules, Port configuration,
Storage: SAN Allocation, Global Mirror
Facilities: Power Down Changes
Goods Receipt Note / Service Receipt Note
This process cycle is more or less common across
organization with some variation. ERP
Implementation Organization can map process
cycle templates and make questionnaire
documents for faster and easier delivery
Building block concept makes a conscious attempt to capture organization process knowledge and
lessons learnt from its previous projects. The frame work of Building Block is presented in Exhibit XXX.
Exhibit 5.0 Framework for Building Blocks
By applying Building Block concept, organization can develop Standard WBS for all Standard, Common &
Repeatable Component where not only they have clearly articulated task for completing each of the
deliverables but also risks for every tasks and correspondingly define risk mitigation strategies for
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Using this Building Block approach, we have developed a tool named “Building Block” for Project
Services which is used by Project Managers in their new projects.
Controlling the critical task for any project delivery is important for the schedule but to make the
schedule more predictable we should give equal importance to the organization processes and ensure
to capture organization process knowledge and lessons learnt from its previous projects. With focused
effort and strong commitment from organizations, these approaches can effectively used to manage
and shrink project schedules to gain competitive advantage.
Jayanto Bose is Program Lead in IBM GTS Division
Prashant Shrivastava is Senior Project Manager in IBM GTS Division
1. Knowledge definition as per Wikipedia