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3 Steps to Professional Project Management: Case Study

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3 Steps to Professional Project Management: Case Study

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This case study demonstrates the transformation in project results that increasing project management professionalism can bring to a business. The business in the case study was an R&D consultancy, but the same transformation is possible for any business where projects significantly define business performance.

This case study demonstrates the transformation in project results that increasing project management professionalism can bring to a business. The business in the case study was an R&D consultancy, but the same transformation is possible for any business where projects significantly define business performance.

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3 Steps to Professional Project Management: Case Study

  1. 1. 1 of 24 3 Steps to Professional Project Management: Case Study 1. Efficient Process 2. Competent People 3. Shared Understanding
  2. 2. 2 of 24 3 Steps to Professional Project Management Strategy Efficient process, competent people, shared understanding. 1. Create and embed a light-weight, end-to-end project delivery framework 2. Create and embed a PM competence and learning & development framework 3. Manage and develop project delivery stakeholders Implementation Measure, benchmark & improve. Results 5 year case study
  3. 3. 3 of 24 Objectives: Holistic, Long-term Team • Match team to portfolio • Mix of new, middle & senior PMs • Develop common SMART objectives • Benchmark and align pay & benefits • Learning & Development • Develop PM Competency Framework aligned to APM & business • Drive PM Qualification & Certification • Run regular PM Forum to share best practice • Embed mentoring & coaching • Develop PM team feedback • Succession Planning • PM career development • Identify new PMs: internal & external Results • Develop scalable project governance & review • Analyse and reduce project loss: frequency & scale • Improve project cash-flow • On-time payment milestone delivery • Payment milestone invoicing & payment • Deliver better than budget project portfolio result Customers • Listen to and act on feedback: internal & external • Measure and increase repeat business • Improve customer change control • Measure and increase customer satisfaction • Increase on-time project completion • Seek and act on customer feedback Processes • Create a unified, efficient process framework • Co-ordinate best practitioner process development • Actively increase understanding and use • Rationalise engineering tools & align to process • Benchmark and embed improvements • CMMI-Dev: Achieve CMMI Maturity Level 3 • EFQM: Achieve >650 score • Close the loop on lessons learned: don’t record & forget Ensure PM competence matches project value, risk and complexity: availability should not be the only PM selection criteria Competence: the combination of knowledge and relevant experience
  4. 4. 4 of 24 Project Delivery Framework Opportunity Assessment CONCEPT PHASE Study Planning IMPLEMENTATION PHASE Design Iteration A Design Iteration B DesignDesign Manu- facture Site/Final Acceptance Test Field Trial Interoperability Test New Product Introduction (NPI) Process Design Process Trials Process Proving Ramp-up Sales & Marketing Definition Service Definition Service Roll-out Launch Volume Production, Sales & Service End of Life G3 Implementation Approval G4 A Samples G5 B Samples NPI Launch G7 Sales Release G8 Product Sign-off G9 Termination Decision Design/Build/ Test ...Increment 1 ... System Test Design/Build/ Test Increment n... ... System Test Test Test Manu- facture Software & Firmware: Hardware: G2 Full Business Case G0 Idea Synchronisation Gates ConcurrentLifecycleProcesses G1 Initial Business Case PDR Preliminary Design Review FDR Final Design Review G6 CDR Critical Design Review PRR Production Readiness Review TRR Test Readiness Review 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Typical Timeline Let the best practitioners own the process Get advice from process experts to ensure consistent process development Process describes how we do what we do Gate reviews – timed before significant spends – check work is synchronised and the business case still valid A chance to stop or change the approach if necessary
  5. 5. 5 of 24 Clear separation of Policy, Process and Guidance Topic Policy Process Work Instruction Tools Map Template Guide Owner Form Lifecycle P01 PR01 WI01-00 to WI01-99 TM01 T01-00 to T01-99 G01 Process Owner F01-00 to F01-99 Bidding P02 PR02 WI02-00 to WI02-99 TM02 T02-00 to T02-99 G02 Bid Process Owner F02-00 to F02-99 Project Management P03 PR03 WI03-00 to WI03-99 TM03 T03-00 to T03-99 G03 PM Process Owner F03-00 to F03-99 20 topics cover whole lifecycle A little mandatory process A lot of guidance material including templates and examples from real projects Project acquisition & delivery focus Similar structure for operations 1. Lifecycle 2. Bidding 3. Project Management 4. Quality Assurance 5. Procurement 6. Requirements Management 7. Systems Engineering 8. EMC 9. Antenna Development 10. Digital Design 11. Mechanical Engineering 12. Electronics and PCB Design 13. FPGA & Digital ASIC Design 14. RF ASIC Design 15. RF Engineering 16. Software Engineering 17. DSP Engineering 18. Test 19. Manufacturing and Production Engineering 20. Service & Support Audited Process < > Guidance & Training Material Practitioner Peer Groups for each area assist buy-in and development Cut the clutter! Keep the best, delete the rest Pinch with pride!
  6. 6. 6 of 24 Example Process Concept Planning Phase ProcessCategory F ProjectsCategory A to E Projects A single concept is detailed sufficiently to quote for a fixed price implementation Requirements System Design Electronics Subsystem Design Mechanics Subsystem Design Antenna Subsystem Design FPGA Subsystem Design Software Subsystem Design System Design Review Concept Study Phase Define System Requirements Requirements [18] Analyse & Refine System Design Subsystem Design Define Subsystem Requirements Requirements System Requirements [18] [18.1] Requirements System Requirements Subsystem Requirements [18] [18.1] [18.2] Integration Planning SW Drop Plan FPGA Drop Plan Integration Plan System Design Block Diagrams PCB Shapes & Component Placement BoM & NRE Summary FPGA Interface Specification FPGA Pin Allocation Table System Design [19] Define Test Concept System Modelling Block Diagrams Level Plans / Link Budget [19.2] [19.6] [19] [19.2] [19.4] [19.5] [19.7] [19.8] System Design Subsystem Design Electronics Subsystem Design Mechanics Subsystem Design 3D Models Mechanics Rapid Prototypes Antenna Subsystem Design FPGA Subsystem Design FPGA Behavioural Simulation Scripts FPGA Complexity Analysis Software Subsystem Design Iterative Cost Reduction Feature Revision Design Selection Make/Buy Decisions (possible sub-contracts) Test Planning Test Concept [21] Test Concept Test Plan Product Integrity Tests System Tests Subsystem Tests Integration Tests [18] [19] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [21] [22] [22.1] [22.2] [22.3] [22.5] System FMEA Manufacturing Kick-off Workshop Write Production Test Plan Manufacturing Consensus System FMEA Refine PCB Component Placement PCB Shapes & Component Placement (inc. screening plan) [19.4] [20] [31] [30] [32] Product Integrity Plan [6] [19] [19.1] [25] [26] [26.1] [39.2] [27] [28] [28.1] [28.2] [29] Spreads understanding & cooperation Informs work breakdown and scheduling: acts as a memory jogger
  7. 7. 7 of 24 Manage Risk and Control Change Pre-Bid Bid Concept Implementation Acquisition Delivery 10 – 25% 75 – 90%Price: Opportunities Threats Volume Time Active Risk Management – throughout the lifecycle – to deal with uncertainty Uncertainty Knowledge Contractual Risk Reduction  Reduce risk to <20% of contract value before going into implementation  Get under contract in phases to match the level of risk at each phase  Gate Reviews: focus on risk, check for change  Run all projects as if they are fixed price Bid and Concept Phase  Lots of unknowns = lots of risk  Scoped time & materials – if you can  Joint activity with customer  Get fundamental approach right Need to do work to acquire knowledge  Better able to estimate the job  Early work defines final result
  8. 8. 8 of 24 Risk Register: Risk Summary – with Risk History The saved baselines in the Risk History show the Risk development over time Managing upside risk as important as managing downside risk – and can offset threat impact Qualitative risk management, using an Excel Risk Register tool
  9. 9. 9 of 24 Risk Register: Risk Event List
  10. 10. 10 of 24 Risk Register: Example Risk Event
  11. 11. 11 of 24 Risk Register: Probability Impact Diagram
  12. 12. 12 of 24 Consistent Planning Strategy (Need) Contingency Opportunities Enhancement Tasks Secondary Risks Product Breakdown Structure Work Breakdown Structure Work Packages & Tasks Estimates Zero Risk (Deterministic) Cost INFORM Inform / Offset Threats Mitigation Tasks Programme & Project Set-up INFORM Project Delivery Process, PDP Risk Register Tool, RRT Risk Management Strategy, RMS Risk Management Plan, RMP Held at Board level: Project, Programme or Business Held at Project & Programme level If cost effective Contingency Project Risk Pot Estimation Uncertainty
  13. 13. 13 of 24 Funding Estimation Uncertainty The business Risk Appetite can inform what probability to use, e.g.: 10% Team Target (likely risks do not occur) 50% Best Estimate (as many risks occur as not) 90% ‘Safe’ Estimate (several unlikely major risks occur) One strategy: Estimation uncertainty ‘project risk pot’ = deterministic cost – 90% cost Reward using less of this risk pot, but recognise that a proportion is likely to be required This encourages behaviour that enhances results whilst recognising uncertainty and setting realistic expectations PMs use project risk pot to ensure delivery to the deterministic end date Drives the right behaviour in the team – to deliver on their Most Likely estimates Selective 4 point estimating maintains competitive pricing
  14. 14. 14 of 24 Ensuring Team Delivery Same team to bid, estimate and deliver Agile Sprints and Burn Down charts Scrum: daily meetings, limited sprints to develop end-to-end testable features, etc. Use of Burn Down charts to display progress for all to see Team really buy-in and like to see themselves “below the line” Suitable length expected to be around 4-6 weeks Burn Down chart example on next slide: Interesting dynamics and effects clearly visible VHDL Team, 10 week sprint which was too long, too much to verify at the end Co-locate teams whenever possible and mix the team disciplines and grades Flexi-time, reward/recognise contribution beyond the norm, exceptional results bonus
  15. 15. 15 of 24 Burn Down Chart Example Team take corrective action! Burn Downs get the team to engage with the plan
  16. 16. 16 of 24 PM Excellence Programme A Learning & Development programme for project managers Incorporating a competence framework based on the APM competence framework Each project manager owns a Portfolio, Programme & Project Career Review tool, or CRT – The CRT encapsulates their career to date: • Education & Continuing Professional Development • Bid and project experience • Competence self assessment • Summary of achievement compared to their next career level up • Next step planning – Objectively compares their performance with their peers – Helps set learning & development objectives – Clearly shows the next steps to advance their career – Built on Portfolio, Programme & Project best practice CRT used for promotion and certification reviews and annual performance assessments
  17. 17. 17 of 24 Best Practice Peer Review A quarterly PM Forum – 1 day best practice workshop – build a supportive PM community – close the loop on lessons learned The PM Excellence Programme submitted for APM Corporate Accreditation APM professional body membership encouraged APM qualifications required for jobs matched to IPMA levels A to D All category A to D projects peer reviewed PM Certification by internal review panel with external PM chair
  18. 18. 18 of 24 3 Steps to Professional Project Management Strategy Efficient process, competent people, shared understanding. 1. Create and embed a light-weight, end-to-end project delivery framework 2. Create and embed a PM competence and learning & development framework 3. Manage and develop project delivery stakeholders Implementation Measure, benchmark & improve. Results 5 year case study
  19. 19. 19 of 24 Case Study: Project Portfolio The methods described were used in a contract R&D business with this project portfolio Many complex projects, according to the APM definition Projects were categorised to enable PM competence matching. Category A is the highest value, risk and complexity, F the lowest. 41 (40 External & 1 Internal) category A to D projects 70% of overall project portfolio by value PM was now always a career PM Average contract value: £1.3m Largest project: £15m fixed price Average duration: 18 months 334 (234 External & 100 Internal) category E & F projects PM remained typically an engineer Average contract value: £90k Average duration: 9 months Red 8 3% Amber 14 5% Green 353 92%Project Status External 275 73% Internal 100 27% 375 Projects
  20. 20. 20 of 24 Case Study: Over-Budget Project Root Causes Year 1 An analysis of project over-spend root causes showed poor and inconsistent project management skills as root causes None of the PM team held any PM qualifications or professional PM body membership 1 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 5 5 9 16 0 10 20 Relocation Order Reduction Staff Competence Grade Mix Change Customer Dependency Production Data Pack Staff Availability System Design Integration & Test Supplied Code Issue Other Incorrectly Bid Project Management Test Failure Underestimation Over Budget - Root Cause Frequency Year 1
  21. 21. 21 of 24 Case Study: Portfolio Objectives Progress after 5 years Team • Match team to portfolio • Mix of new, middle & senior PMs • Develop common SMART objectives • Benchmark and align pay & benefits • Learning & Development • Develop PM Competency Framework aligned to APM & business • Drive PM Qualification & Certification • Run regular PM Forum to share best practice • Embed mentoring & coaching • Develop PM team feedback • Succession Planning • PM career development • Identify new PMs: internal & external Results • Develop scalable project governance & review • Analyse and reduce project loss: frequency & scale • Improve project cash-flow • On-time payment milestone delivery • Payment milestone invoicing & payment • Deliver better than budget project portfolio result Customers • Measure and increase repeat business • Improve customer change control • Measure and increase customer satisfaction • Increase on-time project completion • Seek and act on customer feedback Processes • Create a unified, efficient process framework • Co-ordinate best practitioner process development • Actively increase understanding and use • Rationalise engineering tools & align to process • Benchmark and embed improvements e.g. • CMMI-Dev: Achieve CMMI Maturity Level 3 • EFQM: Achieve >650 score Continuous Improvement Significant Change Ongoing Significant Change Required
  22. 22. 22 of 24 Case Study: Results after 5 Years 13% 17% 15% 8% -52% Year 5 Year 4 Year 3 Year 2 Year 1 Overall Project Results Result vs. Budget • Transformed portfolio results • Happy customers • Happy Project Managers • Estimation still #1 issue but reduced in frequency • ‘Project Management’ no longer an issue 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 5 5 5 6 8 11 0 10 20 Project Management Relocation Supplied Code Issue Order Reduction Incorrectly Bid System Design Staff Competence Production Data Pack Other Customer Dependency Test Failure Integration & Test Staff Availability Grade Mix Change Underestimation Over Budget - Root Cause Frequency Year 5
  23. 23. 23 of 24 PM professionalism is the key to transforming project results. There is no short-cut to consistently good project results. Project management is hard: projects are more complex, stakeholders more demanding and the competences required cover a hugely diverse range of subjects. Executives often behave as if a PM were only as good as their last result. Competence is one required element, but the environment must also be conducive to efficient project delivery. Project delivery process and tools and the culture of the business must be aligned. The strategy described here isn’t fast, cheap or easy. It is however transformational, long lasting and ultimately pays for itself many times over. Summary
  24. 24. 24 of 24 Author Profile In my board role I led a team of 22 Project Managers and 5 Quality Engineers, and ensured Roke’s £79m project portfolio delivered better than budget profit. I set-up and ran a virtual PMO and created REP, the Roke Engineering Process, also managing the engineering tools to support it. After 4 years as an electronics engineer for Siemens, achieving Chartered Engineer, I moved into project management for 14 years, at Siemens and Roke Manor Research. Successfully delivering Roke’s most challenging whole lifecycle product developments on time and under budget led to a role as Director and board member for 6 years. In 2013 I returned to hands-on project management as Programme Director at Cambridge Consultants, founder member of the Cambridge Science Park. Creator of the APM corporate accredited PM Excellence Programme, I chaired a quarterly PM forum to share best practice and built a supportive PM community. I coached seven PMs to RPP, five to PQ, and all passed APMP. These investments in PM professionalism led to a turn-around and annual improvement in project results across a 400 project portfolio and delivered an above budget performance in five consecutive years with profits totalling £7.9m above budget. Passionate advocate of PM professionalism, Fellow of the APM and the IET and author of articles published in Project and PM Today. Professional Development Winning Project Work Planning Estimating Risk Management Earned Value Management Change Control Stakeholder Management 3 Steps to Professional Project Management: Case Study ProjectManagementTopics

Editor's Notes

  • To improve planning across all projects and achieve consistently good results, take a holistic, long term approach.

    Create a whole lifecycle, efficient process framework
    Process describes how we do what we do, so ensure the best practitioners own the process Use process experts to ensure a consistent, best practice process development – don’t let them develop the process itself Cut the clutter – reduce multiple templates and tools for a job to a single one - keep the best, delete the rest – and continuously improve it, if worthwhile Make it easy – find things from a single, easy to navigate start point – make it easier to use the template than not
    Clearly state what is Policy (you must), what is Process & Procedure (how) and what is Guidance (help and examples) Refer to existing external best practice where possible – pinch with pride – only the rich can afford to reinvent the wheel

    Ensure PM competence is a match for project value, risk and complexity
    Availability should not be the only qualification

    Increase PM competence at all levels
    Competence is the combination of knowledge and relevant experience
    A project run by an unqualified project manager should be small and relatively unimportant to the business
    Larger, business critical projects require a suitably competent project manager

    Close the loop on lessons learned
    Don’t record and forget by default
    Good practices as well as room for improvement

    Listen to and act on feedback from our Customers
    Internal and external
  • A framework for business operations is also needed and can follow the same simple structure shown here, with the topics changed appropriately.

    Ownership is important if the documented process is to be what actually happens in projects.
    20 topics, each topic owner an expert practitioner supported by a practitioner peer group to assist buy-in and development.

    A light weight mandatory policy and process is backed up by a lot of guidance and training material to help get the best practice embedded in project teams.
  • When process matches what is done, this can inform the work breakdown and scheduling and act as a memory jogger to do the right tasks at the optimum time, avoiding nugatory work.

    This ensures a governance regime is built into the plan along with its cost, and help PMs ask the right questions of the experts.

    And it informs the whole team about what other team members jobs entail – spreading understanding and co-operation.
  • Plans will always change in detail as events unfold and more becomes known, but it is possible to get the fundamental approach right.

    Active risk management, throughout the lifecycle, is the key competence to deal with uncertainty, especially in a high risk, complex project environment.

    Risk should reduce over time as more becomes known – although it usually isn’t a smooth reduction pictured here
    – often new risks appear late in the project, so don’t give up contingency budgets too early!

    Gate reviews act as a regular check that work is synchronised and that the business case is still valid.
    These are timed before significant spends in the project and are a chance to stop or change the approach if necessary.
  • Qualitative risk management, supported by an Excel Risk Register tool.

    Managing the upside risks is as important as managing the downside risk (and it can help offset downside risk).
  • Use the proposed project team to do the estimating!
  • Estimation is the process of combining the results of experience, metrics and measurements to arrive at an approximate judgement of time, cost and resource requirements for a task.

    Estimation methods can be grouped into types: Red boxes are the estimating methods, blue boxes are the types of estimating method.

    Transparent Box methods make the reasoning for the estimation apparent along with the estimate, Black Box do not.
  • Choose your estimating method to suit your project:
    …there is no perfect, use-every-time estimation method
    …many methods rely on having a database or case history of past estimates and results
    …you need to select a method case-by-case, for your type of work and environment.
  • Don’t confuse uncertainty with a lack of knowledge

    Large ranges generally indicate guessing – experience is required to estimate rather than guess
  • Its very difficult to get the whole project team to engage with the project plan so that they also deliver to budget and schedule

    Engineers are notorious tweakers and always want to do more – sometimes ‘gold plating’ and so going over budget and schedule

    Burn Down charts and Scrum are an excellent way of getting sub-teams to deliver to their estimates – and take their own corrective action when necessary
  • Not everything was complete, but everything was started and most were into business as usual continuous improvement.

    First focus was on the Team group.
    By year 5, all career PMs were APM members and had one or more PM qualifications, aligned with APM and IPMA competency levels.
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