My comments about the “Implementing a Common Project Management Strategy in 50 Very Different Countries” from the 2015 PMI conference in London

As I mentioned in a previous post, I committed to comment on specific presentations I found useful and trigerring some comments or questions. So let’s start with the topic in subject…

Getting a Grip: Implementing a Common Project Management Strategy in 50 Very Different Countries. “Do we speak the same project language?” This session will guide you to the answer “YES, we do!” by showing how we support the company´s mission more efficiently by improving the way of managing projects. We will look at best practices within an implementation of a global PM standard. In particular you will learn about the integrative approach/speed of implementation in a multicultural environment. You will also see the framework developed and the roll-out agenda of targets versus results.

Actually current experience sharing humbly and efficiently with others ! What you read in the description is what you get. Well done, straight to the point , we all could translate this in our company and the presentation was delivered by a practitioner who rolled-up his sleeves to make it happen. Definitely a presentation I liked and a great practitioner i could openly have lunch with!

Now, let’s move more into the meat i.e. the content and my own view on this…

It is obvious that KAEFER Isoliertechnik GmbH & Co. KG is serious about implementing its Project Management strategy and focused on the right angles:

  • Communication
  • Personal development
  • Standards

It totally matches my own experience in terms of setting a baseline in the group which will enable easier communication but mainly delivery globally. They structured it to increase professional and leadership development that offers also better marketability for the PMs. It will subsequently also provide assurance in terms of ramp up when they have new hires.
I won’t comment on budgets but I do not really understand why moving in a per country basis here as the goal is to have a global reach in essence… Personally I would have gone for identifying individuals in the PM space wherever they are worldwide and bring them all through the process so that you have a smart distribution and build on this global sample.

Another comment I would bring here is that I do not see here how they do manage 3rd parties and how they do need to comply to this model when they come and deliver for this company. We faced that challenge as well and it is key that there is an interface in place that allows contractors to match their framework with the standards shown in this presentation. Wellingtone blog has a good article that concurs with my point here as not having a clear policy and strategy in place here may bring you to where you were before implementing the strategy internally. As you will see from this article there can be a lot more to managing 3rd party suppliers than simply issuing them with a purchase order.

In this context and having set your own strategy and framework you will still need with 3rd parties think as a minimum of the following items:

  • Leveraging from the vendor’s own framework?
  • Managing shared expectations?
  • If more than 1 vendor, lowest common denominator? (no compromise on quality and controls to sustain original objectives of your own framework)
  • Involving vendor as soon as possible in the project (project set-up phase to align on risks, objectives, ways of working, etc…)

My last feedback would be about the standards themselves as it looks like a typical Waterfall approach with no reference to Agile methodology… There is plenty out there to compare both but as usual the truth is in the middle and there is a balance to be found i.e. defining where to apply what methodology. Both Waterfall and Agile methodologies have their pros and cons, what would be best to use? It really depends on your requirements. If you have a structured, static project, with a clearly defined goal and requirements that will not change, then Waterfall might be best as a model of predictability. On the other hand if your keyword is adaptability and your end goal is not really well defined and the needs and requirements of the project are fluid, or where the business environment is uncertain, then Agile is the way forward. The Agile approach allows you to make frequent changes, and because you test the project at each stage there is a much better chance to achieve a successful outcome. Clearly the latter will also require better communication skills for the team.

I know I said that the previous one was my last but I also missed one concept which is project “type” or segregation allowing to better segment your approach based on criteria. Clearly a framework should not be a one size fits all. I did explain this in my “last” comment here above! No doubt there are tens of ways to segment this e.g. based on the subject:

  • IT Services
  • Civil engineering
  • Research
  • Business Implementation
  • Procurement

This is of course valid and all these cannot be managed the same way using the same approach or methodology. I am a firm believer that PM skills are transportable but of course it is important to apply the most relevant standards.
Once you identified the type of project you have to deal with it is worth drilling down and further segment to achieve more relevance and so use e.g. the following criteria:

  • Level of risk
  • Size of the project (budget)
  • Impact of the project
  • Complexity of the project

Having this defined will help you to create templates, policies, assurance processes, etc… for even more standard and effective delivery and of course better grip on these initiative through central standard monitoring/reporting.

It was a great presentation showing the importance of a global change bringing obvious benefits at group level and enabling better delivery and reporting and so facilitate better portfolio and change management while the company can increase its control during the entire project lifecycle.

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